It’s hard not to compare J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and D.K. Metcalf.
They play the same position, they were taken seven spots apart in this year’s draft, and they’ll both be playing at the Linc on Sunday.
Through 10 games?
Metcalf has 35 catches for 595 yards, 23 first downs and five touchdowns.
Arcega-Whiteside has 3 catches for 43 yards, 1 first down and no touchdowns.
It’s still awfully early. But so far the Seahawks’ rookie has a monumental edge in production.
Doug Pederson said Wednesday that the Eagles liked Metcalf coming out of Mississippi.
They just liked Arcega-Whiteside better.
“We liked the player,” Pederson said. “He’s a big, powerful, physical guy, and he had some really good tape out there. And then we also liked J.J. We loved his size, his ability to play above the rim so to speak in the red zone and things like that. Similar players and made the decision with J.J. and we’ve been happy with that.”
The Eagles took JJAW with the 57th pick in this year’s draft, and the Seahawks selected Metcalf at No. 64.
Metalf’s 595 receiving yards leads all NFL rookies, and Redskins rookie Terry McLaurin, a 3rd-round pick, is second with 566.
The Eagles could have had either one.
Metcalf and McLaurin are tied with the second-most receptions this year by rookies, three fewer than 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel, the 36th pick out of South Carolina.
The only Seahawk in franchise history with more yards in his first 10 games of his career than Metcalf is Joey Galloway, a high 1st-round pick who had 650 in 1995.
Metcalf has played 577 snaps. Arcega-Whiteside has played 195 but only 62 in the last six games.
His 29-yard reception against the Patriots Sunday was his first catch since Week 3.
“He did some nice things in the game, even though the ball necessarily didn’t come his way,” Pederson said. “He ran some really good routes and he played physical. The signs of him getting work in practice kind of paid off in the game and it will just give him more confidence moving forward.”
With Alshon Jeffery’s status still up in the air, there’s a chance JJAW will get more work against the Seahawks.
But it won’t be as much as Metcalf.
The only person who can really explain why the Eagles liked Arcega-Whiteside more than Metcalf is Howie Roseman, and he doesn’t do interviews during the season.
So Pederson sometimes has to answer questions about personnel that really aren’t his department.
“Young players sometimes it just takes time,” Pederson said. “It takes time to settle into their role, to understand their role and then to understand our game, to be able to play fast and to be able to play at a high level, and he showed some of that Sunday.”
Metcalf has been showing that every Sunday.
It’s still way too early to write off Arcega-Whiteside or speculate who’s going to end up having the better career. There is certainly no reason to think JJAW won’t become a key part of this offense.
But something is holding him back right now. Whether it’s coaching or just a poor evaluation by Roseman and his scouts, something is keeping him off the field.
Meanwhile, Metcalf is producing at a high level as a 21-year-old rookie for one of the NFL’s best teams.
And the way the Eagles’ wide receivers have been playing, it’s hard not to wonder how things would have gone if the Eagles had taken Metcalf instead.
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