On December 31st, JJ Arcega-Whiteside will close out his college career at Stanford against the Pitt Panthers in the Sun Bowl. A big-bodied wide receiver from a very athletic family, Arcega-Whiteside should draw plenty of attention from NFL scouts this spring. Where should he rank in the 2019 WR class for dynasty purposes?
THE EARLY YEARS
Born in Spain, Arcega-Whiteside played high school football in South Carolina where he was a three-star recruit per 247 Sports. He excelled in basketball and track as well, gaining a McDonald’s All-American Game nomination and an all-state designation in track and field. As a true freshman in 2015, Arcega-Whiteside saw no game action for the Cardinal. But in 2016 he began building a solid career. Amassing a 24-379-5 receiving line in 10 games played, Arcega-Whiteside finished with a 0.26 Dominator Rating in an offense built around Christian McCaffrey.
2017 AND BEYOND
As a junior in 2017, Arcega-Whiteside took advantage of the absence of McCaffrey’s receiving skills, ascending to the clear No. 1 status in the passing game. His 48-781-9 receiving line isn’t gaudy but did account for 35 percent of the team’s receiving yards and TDs. Crossing the 30 percent threshold counts as a true breakout season and is an important factor in predicting future success for WR prospects:
Through 11 games this season, Arcega-Whiteside has posted career-highs in receptions (60), yards receiving (969), and TDs (14) resulting in a 0.38 Dominator Rating. He’s one of six WRs with at least 25 receiving TDs while averaging at least 16 yards per catch over the last four seasons. He’s also ranked 12th and 10th nationally in Dominator Rating over the past two seasons.
Arcega-Whiteside is a great example of why market share matters. The lack of a 1,000-yard season may looks unimpressive on paper. But as we’ve seen, he’s been rather dominant when taking his team’s total production into account. Arcega-Whiteside shines in Anthony Amico’s WR Breakout Age Regression Tree based on his breakout age and final-year production:
Prospects with similar resumes have historically produced a 200+ PPR season within their first three seasons 33 percent of the time. Arcega-Whiteside’s 20-year-old breakout is another positive on his profile as players drafted in the top-100 with breakout seasons before the age of 21 hit at nearly twice the rate of 22-year-old breakouts:
|20 < BA <= 21||12||34||35.3%||46.4|
|21 < BA <= 22||4||21||19.0%||52.3|
|BA > 22||1||15||6.7%||62.3|
But as someone who will play his rookie season at age 22, it’s important to incorporate final age into Arcega-Whiteside’s profile. Blair Andrews showed that WRs playing their rookie season at age 22 are almost half as likely to register a WR2 season compared to their 21-year-old counterparts:
Despite his age, Arcega-Whiteside remains an intriguing prospect. Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network noted his plus acceleration, body control, and catch radius, calling Arcega-Whiteside an excellent receiver at all three levels with some elite traits. Arcega-Whiteside has also been terrific on deep targets and in contested catch situations. If he can exhibit above-average combine results with his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame, he will shoot up draft boards. As of right now I wouldn’t hesitate taking him in the mid-to-late first round of rookie drafts this summer.