Over two weeks, I’m taking a look at 10 Eagles players who might be primed for a breakout season in 2020. I have already looked at Boston Scott, K’Von Wallace, Sidney Jones, T.J. Edwards, Jalen Reagor, Isaac Seumalo, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat and Greg Ward.
Up today: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
How acquired: 2019 2nd-round pick
Entering: Year 2
I know, I know, but hear me out.
It’s too early to call J.J. Arcega-Whiteside a bust. Sure, his career got off to a terrible start in 2019 but he’s a second-round pick entering the second year of his career. And when Arcega-Whiteside was drafted with the 57th overall pick, it wasn’t a stretch. Many thought the Eagles nailed it.
That kind of talent doesn’t just evaporate, does it?
As a rookie, and despite plenty of opportunity, JJAW caught just 10 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. No question about it: it was a disaster.
What made Arcega-Whiteside’s rookie season even harder to swallow was the amount of players drafted after him who had considerably better rookie season. In all, 10 receivers drafted after Arcega-Whiteside had more receiving yards, including D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin, who both killed the Eagles.
It seems like one big reason for Arcega-Whiteside’s struggles as a rookie were injuries. At least that’s what the Eagles are hoping.
Arcega-Whiteside was never really healthy in 2019. In an interview done in Spanish back in May, the Eagles’ receiver opened up a little more about those injuries, saying it got so bad he needed help walking to the bathroom. While I hadn’t heard that before, I have heard that his injuries were more serious than indicated during the season. I know he had a pretty serious foot injury that needed maintenance throughout the season.
As Reuben Frank showed us in February, history doesn’t give us a lot of hope for JJAW. Second-round receivers who had bad rookie seasons haven’t responded all that well going forward in their careers. But that doesn’t mean Arcega-Whiteside is destined to fail either.
The Eagles look at Arcega-Whiteside as a young player who is mentally strong enough to overcome a tough rookie season in a city where those shortcomings are magnified. They’re not necessarily relying on him in Year 2 but they’re not counting him out yet either.
With so many question marks at the receiver position, Arcega-Whiteside still has a chance to be a good NFL player; we’ll find out soon enough what he does with that chance.
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