Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are more similar than you thought

Alshon Jeffery, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are more similar than you thought

On Friday night, about an hour after the Eagles took J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with the 57th pick in the 2019 draft, the Stanford receiver was asked which NFL players have influenced his game. 

The first name he said: Alshon Jeffery. 

That is certainly understandable. The similarities between the two are plentiful. Jeffery is six years older than Arcega-Whiteside but age is one of the few things they don’t have in common. 

Both grew up in South Carolina. 

Both have a basketball background. 

Both are known for winning 50-50 balls. 

And now both will be members of the 2019 Eagles roster. 

When I grew up watching Alshon, being from Carolina, it's like, that's a guy that everybody in the state knew. As a kid, it's like, dang, I want to be him one day. I want to be playing college football, like representing my state, having all the kids look up to me. That was me. On top of that, when I get to Stanford and he's tearing it up in the league, like dang, I've got to do whatever he's doing because whatever he's doing is working and I want to emulate the same kind of style.

If Arcega-Whiteside wants to emulate Jeffery, he’s already off to a good start. They were drafted six years apart but were very similar prospects. 

Take a look: 

Arcega-Whiteside will certainly face a higher level of competition in the NFL, but the Eagles don’t seem worried about how his game will work at the next level. Eagles head personnel chief Joe Douglas said “strength translates” to the NFL. And Howie Roseman called Arcega-Whiteside “crafty” in his ability to use his basketball skills to separate. Sound familiar? 

Now it’ll just be up to Carson Wentz to get the ball to these guys, even if they’re not wide open. In 2018, according to the NFL’s NextGen Stats, Wentz had an aggressiveness percentage of 16.2 (18th in the NFL). That means that 16.2 percent of his passes were thrown into tight coverage with defenders within one yard of a receiver. In 2017, he was at 25.7 percent, the highest in the league that season (h/t The Athletic)

If during the pre-draft process the Eagles had any doubts about Arcega-Whiteside’s skills translating, they could simply look at Jeffery to alleviate those fears. Now, just because Jeffery has had success in the league, it doesn’t mean Arcega-Whiteside will. But it is proof that those skills can translate. 

It's fair to question why the Eagles would draft a receiver that is so similar to a guy they already have. But the answer is simple: They thought they got great value with Arcega-Whiteside and things can change. Jeffery is already 29 and has cap hits over $15 million in 2020 and 2021. If Arcega-Whiteside grows quickly and Alshon gets old in a hurry, the Eagles could pull a switch and save a ton of cap room for a team that will eventually have a QB making over $30 million per season. 

But don’t expect Jeffery to be intimidated by the newcomer. In fact, the two have already been exchanging text messages. And then, there’s this. 

“I’m excited to learn from him,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “And I think [Jeffery is] excited to just kind of guide me and teach me whatever he's done that's worked.”

It would make sense if Jeffery sees a lot of himself in Arcega-Whiteside. Heck, the rest of us already do. 

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Viral moment at Phillies game shows why Philadelphia loves Alshon Jeffery

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USA TODAY Images

Viral moment at Phillies game shows why Philadelphia loves Alshon Jeffery

When you’re at your lowest of lows, sometimes it’s all about how you respond to that low rather than the moment itself. The lasting moment of last season for the Eagles was definitely a low point for Alshon Jeffery, but what he’s done since has grown his bond with the city of Philadelphia.

Here’s a photo of Jeffery from Tuesday’s Phillies game that has gone viral on social media with more than 1,400 engagements.

 

Immediately after the missed catch that led to the interception that ended the Eagles' season, there was an outpouring of support for the wide receiver, but that outpouring of support has been met and delivered right back.

If you recall, a second grader wrote a letter to Jeffery expressing encouragement. Instead of ignoring the letter or responding with a simple gesture, Jeffery showed up at the elementary school that fan attended and spend some time with the kids.

He has been a fixture at Sixers games, too.

His latest public display, taking photos and chatting with fans at the Phillies game just shows that he gets it and there’s a good reason why Eagles fans have his back, in addition to his play on the field. 

Some other athletes might not have gotten the same benefit of doubt from a fanbase after making such a high-profile mistake, but the way Jeffery has responded to the fans' support shows why he will be long remembered and revered in the City of Brotherly Love.

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Eagles Mailbag: Dividing the pie, RBs in draft, Doug Pederson on injury report

Eagles Mailbag: Dividing the pie, RBs in draft, Doug Pederson on injury report

I knocked out the first group of your questions in Friday's mailbag

Let’s not waste time today: 

As far as problems go, count this one as a good one to have. While in Phoenix last month at the owners meetings, I wrote about this in depth and that was before the trade to get Jordan Howard.

Now, the Eagles have Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Howard. And one football. It’ll be up to Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz to spread the ball around. If the Eagles are winning, everyone will buy in and the egos will be kept in check. The problem might come if things aren’t going well and certain players feel they are being underutilized. But the Eagles shouldn’t complain about a surplus of guys who deserve the ball. 

It’s still a draft need, just much less pressing now. If I’m weighing this with importance of position, it’s behind defensive line and offensive line, but ahead of linebacker. I still don’t think the Eagles value that position as much as some fans do. 

1. DL
2. OL
3. RB
4. LB
5. S

Remember, Howard has just one year left on his rookie contract and will be a free agent after the season. So trading for him shouldn’t drastically change the Eagles’ plan in the draft. If there’s a RB in the second round and the Eagles have him ranked as their top player on the board, they should take him and not think twice about Howard. 

1. Josh Jacobs
2. David Montgomery
3. Miles Sanders 

The thing all these guys have in common is their futures as true, three-down backs because of their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. The Eagles don’t seem to care about the do-it-all nature of some running backs, as evidenced by some of their recent moves. But if I were using a first- or second-round pick on a running back, I would need to know they have the ceiling to be an every-down back. All three of these guys will be gone by the end of the second round. 

As Pederson would say, this is a lower-body injury. The Eagles' head coach had surgery on his ankle to prevent an Achilles tear. Basically, he had a bone spur that was rubbing into his tendon and they had to shave it down to make sure the Achilles didn’t rupture. He’s stuck with that walking boot for a total of 10 weeks, but said he’ll be fine for OTAs. He better make sure to stay out of the way, though. As much as Pederson wants to be involved, he might need to take a little step back to keep out of harm’s way. 

I have! A few years ago at the Eagles' media field goal challenge. I didn’t win, but that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to not make too much of a fool of myself and … mission accomplished. I made my first really short field goal, but missed the next one in a respectable manner. I left the NovaCare Complex that day with my dignity intact.

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