Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR of Stanford. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
One of the more interesting “deeper” names in this wide receiver class is JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He comes out fourth in my pre-draft WR model and has comparable production to players currently being drafted in the first round of early rookie mocks.
I think the class is deceptively shallow for those with a decent chance of hitting at least one top-24 PPR season. In the right landing spot, I wouldn’t like to let someone with Whiteside’s production profile slip past the second round.
Stats from sports-reference.com.
Whiteside’s raw numbers don’t look like anything spectacular. He redshirted his first season at Stanford, getting off to what looks like a slow start with 379 receiving yards at the age of 19. However, the Stanford passing game was so slight that this actually translated into 18.4% of the entire passing offense.
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Combined with over 33% of the team’s receiving touchdowns, Whiteside broke out in this first year on the field with over 25% of the team’s overall production (otherwise known as a Dominator rating). While having such a significantly higher share of touchdowns is actually a semi-red flag based on draft prospect history, his receiving yard share also continued to grow. At the age of 20, he was over the average for successful NFL players in this stat.
Graph made from data in my own market share database.
His drop in receiving yard share in his final season brought him down to the trend line. However, despite studying it, I can’t find any reasonable reason for this drop to be a major concern. His touchdown dominance also continued to the point where he scored a 34% Dominator rating at the age of 20 and a 38% Dominator rating at 21. He was a focal point of the Stanford passing offense and dominated well enough to be considered as someone with a top-five production profile in this class.
I rely on more experienced eyes for the majority of my film evaluations. Jake Anderson (@JakeAndersonFF) and other tape grinders here at DLF have linked Whiteside’s game to that of Kelvin Harmon, a much more touted prospect with potential first round buzz.
Even a casual viewing of Whiteside’s film leaves an impression of a big bodied and smart receiver who can post up and make the catch in contested situations. One highlight reel play after another displays his prolific use of size and positioning to put up those gaudy touchdown numbers. However, more careful examination shows an ability to find separation at the line of scrimmage as well as spatial and field awareness good enough to drop between coverage schemes and give him the chance for some yards after the catch.
While he does not display explosive speed on tape, he is a physical receiver who can create yards on his own.
While Whiteside didn’t test at the combine, he still came away having impressed some scouts with his attitude as well as his love and knowledge of the game. He also measured out to be much more of a “typical” wide receiver one prospect than current number one and all-around best pick in the draft – N’Keal Harry – or later prospects with better production profiles who have drawn attention from analysis like me: Andy Isabella.
Not testing at the combine has been a mixed bag for NFL prospects. Coming from Stanford with relatively little attention, he may find it harder to attract significant interesting from NFL teams. On the other hand, he has been noticed and his film displays solid athleticism that he uses well.
How this may shake out is a guessing game but one that will be answered resoundingly in the 2019 NFL draft very soon.
If Arcega-Whiteside is drafted in the first three rounds, look for his dynasty stock to rise. Currently the 17th rookie off the board according to DLF’s March ADP, he is already a late second round pick in smart drafts. But the competition for him is not fierce at this option and anyone with an early pick in the second round is almost guaranteed to have a chance at him. That could change fast with draft capital in the top three rounds.
In the right landing spot, Whiteside has a real chance to make an NFL impact. While slot usage is key to fantasy points in the modern game, I’d actually hope that a team who has a need takes a shot on him because I think he could be a very versatile weapon.
His Production Score (a metric I developed for myself to make production comparisons that multiplies the market share of yards a player produced at each age by the value each age has as predictive measurement into the NFL) ranks him close to Michael Crabtree. However, I find myself comparing his overall profile to Kenny Golladay.
While I don’t expect an immediate impact from any rookie, if he is drafted to a team with a need, he could earn a significant share of targets early. If drafted to a deeper depth chart, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him slowly earning more notice and targets as his rookie season progresses.
Even if drafted outside the first three rounds, I think he is someone to keep our eye on. Those prospects take longer on average to breakout or earn targets, but of the wide receivers in this class, Whiteside has the kind of profile I’d bet on to do it.
Speculating on ideal landing spots has turned into listing teams I’d like to see add a wide receiver this year. So skipping over the obvious examples of teams with a need, I think several have an opportunity that could be more specifically beneficial to Whiteside’s style of play.
The Seattle Seahawks have speed and talent but also an injured Doug Baldwin. Even on low volume, a player with a nose for the end zone like Whiteside could make hay – especially with someone as accurate as Russell Wilson.
I’d also be interested in seeing him pair with a TY Hilton in Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is obviously a promising proposal for any draft prospect’s future. However, I think Whiteside’s versatility and strength in the red zone could really help out a team that has been reliant on a variety of big-bodied tight ends and the skills of Hilton on the outside.
Thanks for checking this out.
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