Philadelphia Eagles: JJ Arcega-Whiteside tops a PFF rankings list

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Eagles decision to draft J.J. Arcega-Whiteside back in 2019 has often been met with heavy criticism. Most will point out that the team left Terry McLaurin, D.K. Metcalf, and Diontae Johnson on the board all of whom have produced with their respective teams. Meanwhile, JJAW has 14 catches for 254 yards and one touchdown in 25 career games on his NFL resume.

Metcalf and McLaurin have more career receptions in their games versus the Philadelphia Eagles alone. Johnson averaged 5.9 receptions per game in 2020. It’s looking more and more likely that he won’t live up to that label.

We’re not here to convince you that Arcega-Whiteside was worthy of the nod in Round 2 or even on Day 2 but the Birds’ third-year wideout has a fresh start. The new coaching staff has given him another chance.

Due in large part to a strong training camp and preseason, he grabbed a roster spot over both Travis Fulgham and John Hightower. Not only did he have an impressive touchdown catch in the finale but he also contributed on special teams. While that didn’t come against the New York Jets’ first team, he still did enough to secure his job.

Philadelphia Eagles get an unexpected contribution from JJAW in Week 1.

At the back end of the 2020 season, fans saw glimpses of Arcega-Whiteside’s impressive blocking ability. In the season finale, he even lined up as a wing tight end and made key blocks in the running game.

In Week 1, he lined up in the slot on the first few plays of the Eagles’ opening drive. Quez Watkins’ two bubble screens to start the game were made possible thanks to blocks out wide by Arcega-Whiteside and DeVonta Smith. JJAW only played 16 total snaps on offense but he made an impact while he was on the field:

Arcega-Whiteside also played 16 snaps on special teams. In the preseason finale, fans saw him make a tackle as a gunner on a kickoff shortly after his touchdown catch. He lined up as a gunner once again in Week 1. He played on the punt team as well and even came close to blocking a punt on one rep. Head coach Nick Sirianni talked about Arcega-Whiteside’s performance in his press conference:

As has been stated before, the best fit for JJAW is in the slot both as a receiver and as a blocker. Last year, he ran some really impressive routes of the slot. He didn’t get the ball thrown in his direction.

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Praising Arcega-Whiteside for his blocking and special teams ability isn’t what fans had envisioned in Year 3. but it is nice to see him making positive contributions to the team. If Sirianni does reward him down the road, maybe fans will get to see more of his route running ability out of the slot.

The new coaching staff might be the best thing to happen to the 24-year-old during his time in Philadelphia. Another year with wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead doesn’t hurt either. This is sure to be an interesting storyline to follow throughout the season.