J.J. Arcega-Whiteside may not be the worst wide receiver in the NFL, but he’s without question the least productive.
Arcega-Whiteside doesn’t have a catch yet this year despite playing 44 snaps in the Eagles’ first two games, and he has just 10 catches in his first 17 NFL games.
How does that compare to the rest of the league?
There isn’t a single active NFL wide receiver who has caught fewer passes in his first 17 games … with one exception.
DeMarcus Robinson of the Chiefs didn’t have any catches in his first 17 games. There’s one notable difference.
Robinson played 10 snaps in his first 17 games.
JJAW has played 530.
Robinson, the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick out of Florida in 2016, played only five snaps as a rookie in 2016 and then five in the 2017 season opener. Once his reps increased, his production increased and he’s gone on to become a functional part of one of the NFL’s best offenses.
Thanks to Pro Football Reference’s Stathead feature, it’s easy to find the last receiver taken in the first or second round of the draft with 10 or fewer catches in his first 17 games.
It was a guy named James Hardy, the Bills’ second-round pick out of Indiana in 2008.
Hardy caught nine passes in 14 games as a rookie and then one more in 2009 and never played again. He actually played only 16 career games before his career ended.
As a matter of fact, according to Pro Football Reference, there have been a handful of first- or second-round picks with fewer than catches for their entire career, but none of them ever even played 17 games.
So JJAW gets points for … persistence?
Notably, Mike Bellamy, the Eagles’ second-round pick in 1990, never caught a pass in six NFL games.
There is one close comparison, and it’s an active player.
Andy Isabella, selected by the Cards out of UMass five picks after Arcega-Whiteside in last year’s draft, has 11 catches in 17 career games. He actually only had nine receptions as a rookie - one fewer than JJAW - but caught two passes for 67 yards on Sunday in the Cards’ win over Washington.
JJAW is one of three active receivers that has been targeted at least twice this year and does not have a reception. The others are the Titans' Kalif Raymond, an undrafted free agent in his fifth season, and the Giants' Damion Ratley, a sixth-round pick in 2018.
With rookie Jalen Reagor out indefinitely and Alshon Jeffery not quite ready to play yet, Arcega-Whiteside should get more snaps Sunday, when the Eagles face the Bengals.
“I’ve always been confident in J.J.,” Doug Pederson said Friday morning. “What I like about J.J. is he’s a player we can use in multiple positions. He knows outside, he knows inside, smart guy and someone we’re going to have to lean on a little bit here in these next couple of games.”
Arcega-Whiteside caught two passes in his first three career games, then went six games without a catch before a flurry of eight receptions in six games in November and December.
His last catch was a 12-yarder from Carson Wentz in the first quarter of the Eagles’ win over the Cowboys in Week 15 last year.
Arcega-Whiteside is tied for 227th in Eagles history in receptions with Noble Doss, Hank Piro, Jordan Howard and nine others.
His next reception will move him into a tie for 218th with Steve Smith, Jed Weaver, Joe Pilconis and six others.
If he gets one.