Ask anyone their theories on what deems a former Philadelphia Eagles draftee worthy of the dreaded ‘bust’ label, and depending on who you’re talking to, you might hear a few different explanations. That’s quite alright because the truth is there are literally about five different reasons why it can happen.
Sometimes, guys just aren’t scheme fits. They land with the wrong coaching staff or roster. In another instance, we can see a prospect’s body fail him as the injuries pile up.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside is none of those things. It may just be time to admit that he wasn’t cut out for the ultra-competitive NFL. You’ve heard and/or told his story so many times that you can repeat it both backward and forward. You know the circumstances that surrounded his arrival. You’re well aware of who Philly ignored in drafting him.
Three NFL seasons and a mere 16 career receptions later, we’re fantasizing over any theory that ends with the Eagles pulling off a trade to land D.K. Metcalf or any other established young wide receiver, and JJAW finds his name on a list that he’d rather not be on.
Is JJ Arcega-Whiteside the worst Eagles draft choice of the past five years? Or, is it Jalen Reagor?
So, let’s get back to that thought about what qualifies someone for the bust designation. Is it expectation? Is it their price tag? Could we argue that it’s where someone was taken during the selection process?
Sure, JJAW has been abhorrent. Bleacher Report’s Maurice Morton labeled him as Philly’s worst draft choice of the past five years recently. We can see why. He is a bust, but is he the worst we’ve seen come through the organization recently? That’s a little unfair.
He was a second-rounder, and guys who are taken there are expected to thrive and contribute immediately, but it’s the guys taken in the first round that the organization and fans bank on to be cornerstones on the roster for years to come.
It’s for that reason that we can’t allow Arcega-Whiteside to carry this dubious honor. The Eagles’ worst draft choice of the past five seasons has to be Derek Barnett, Andre Dillard, or Jalen Reagor. We’d give the title to Mr. Reagor.
Sure, Philly’s gotten next to nothing out of Barnett, but he has made a few splash plays from time to time: the fumble recovery in Super Bowl LII, the strip-sack two weeks earlier in the NFC Championship Game, the game-ending sack of Andrew Luck early in the 2018 season.
Sure, Andre Dillard lost his job to a former rugby star that never played American football before 2018, but Reagor’s apathy is otherworldly. He’s the Eagles’ worst draft choice of the past five years because Philly had the error of taking JJAW to learn from, and they screwed things up anyway.
Drafting Reagor was a more egregious error than taking JJ because, rather than making a better decision one year later, they made one that was worse, and they ignored Justin Jefferson in the process.
Draft errors happen all of the time, but you have to learn from them. Philly never does. They just keep making the same mistakes.
Reagor’s selection is unforgivable because the Eagles had to get the pick right and they didn’t. Reagor’s selection is unforgivable because his presence makes DeVonta’s Smith job harder. DeVonta has to be good and so will any Eagles wide receiver that follows him because the Eagles blew it with JJAW, Reagor, John Hightower, Shelton Gibson, Mack Hollins, and so on.
The long and the short of all of this revolves around one very real truth. The Philadelphia Eagles simply have to be better in the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, as long as Howie Roseman has the final say in the war room, you have to ask if they ever will be.
It’s hard to be confident when you look at every draft from 2017 to 2021 in totality.