NAME: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
CLASS: RS Junior
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 225 lbs
Speed: Functional speed doesn’t match the 4.49 second 40 yard dash he ran at his pro day. Isn’t going to beat a lot of corners deep but has enough speed for the possession type of style that he plays.
Route Running: Maximizes his route running ability through good technique. Crafty with his stems by utilizing nuances like subtle contact, jab steps, and sinking his hips. Doesn’t waste much movement when breaking off vertical routes. However, tends to take some extra steps on 90 degree breaking routes. Lower half stiffness seems to be the cause of this. Also is more subtly quick than explosive out if his stems. So his breaks won’t consistently fool every defensive back.
Hands: Consistently uses optimal hand alignment that allows him to make catches away from his body. Shown that he can extend in multiple ways to haul in passes. Won’t make many spectacular one handed catches and occasionally has concentration drops. But reliable hands for the most part.
Releases: Extremely effective at winning the leverage battle with his releases. Understands how to manipulate corners out of their coverage responsibilities with his step placement. Also does a great job of lulling defenders to sleep with slow pacing and then advancing past them with his short area burst. Usually keeps his chest clean with combative hands at the LOS as well.
Body Control: Possesses phenomenal body control skills. Showed that he can adjust to the ball in a variety of different ways. Love how he can extend towards the sideline and stay in bounds to make catches. Gives quarterbacks the luxury of having a place where no one else can get the ball but hum in these sideline situations. Also thrives with back shoulder throws.
Contested Catch: Routinely came down with 50/50 balls throughout his collegiate career. His ability to box out defenders with his body and still be able put himself in the best position to make the catch is second to none. Skills translate perfectly in the red zone as well. Fade routes in the end zone are a huge part of his game. Elevation skills seem to be a tad limited in terms of how high he can jump (his mediocre vertical jump confirmed that). However, height, body control and high point skills account for his lack of leaping ability.
YAC Ability: Contact balance is solid and shown the ability to make some subtle cuts in the open field to elude defenders. Yet, not very dynamic after the catch. Fits the mold of a true possession receiver that isn’t going create much on his own.
Blocking: Outstanding blocker from a technical standpoint. Does a great job of consistently establishing control of his opponents’ chest plate. Also, generates movement when engaging. Effort is consistently there but wouldn’t say he is overly nasty.
Best Trait: Contested Catch
Worst Trait: Speed/YAC Ability
Best Film: San Diego State (2018)
Worst Film: Notre Dame (2018)
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside projects favorably as an X receiver in the NFL. His route running skills, reliable hands, and contested catch ability should allow him to excel at working the intermediate parts of the field. Also, he is a complete mismatch in the red zone because of his contested catch prowess. That said, it is important to note that his skill set fits a very specific offense/quarterback.
Arcega-Whiteside will need an accurate quarterback because he doesn’t create a ton of separation. Not saying he can’t separate, but he wins in tight spaces more than not. So he needs a quarterback that can fire in passes into some tight windows. He won’t fair well in a vertical or spread offense because he doesn’t of have the necessary speed or YAC ability. A quick rhythm/short and intermediate offense would maximize his skill set.
If he lands in the right situation that I detailed up above, he could put up monster production. Especially in receptions and touchdowns. However, his effectiveness can obviously be hindered if he lands in the wrong system. JJAW is not a “one size fits all” type of player.