The Eagles are in the heart of their OTA program right now, a phase of the offseason that’s often linked heavily with the development of younger players. With numerous veterans absent for a variety of reasons, it gives those who lack NFL experience a chance to work with the first team and really benefit from the increased exposure. Rookie wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside is no exception here.
With Alshon Jeffery yet to practice during OTA’s, the Stanford product has hit the ground running, leaving his new Head Coach impressed.
“This kid has deceiving speed, long speed, No. 1. He’s big. He’s physical at the top.” Doug Pederson told reporters on Monday. “You can see some of his separation when there’s contact at the top of routes where he can separate. Got a really good first step quickness at the line to release, and he’s a big — just a big body. We’ve seen him in the red zone a little bit and being able to you know [work] some back shoulder throws and some of the things you’ve seen on tape in college. He’s been impressive that way.
But I would say that he’s still learning, learning how to run routes, learning how our quarterbacks throw and the timing of things. But he’s had a really good spring.”
Arcega-Whiteside is a big body at 6’2, 226 lbs, comparable to none other than Alshon Jeffery himself. While many point towards the Eagles red zone offense, which could be absolutely monstrous next year, ‘Sega’ could help the Eagles up and down the field.
According to Pro Football Focus, he made 11 contested caches on ‘9 routes’ last year. All 20 of these ‘Go routes’ went for a first down or a touchdown. It just so happens that Wentz completed 12 passes on this route last year, for 271 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With DeSean Jackson providing the speed and Arcega-Whiteside providing that dominant physical presence in 50-50 situations, Wentz will have a truly lethal offense under his control in 2019.
But if Wentz is to truly make the most of this offense, OTA’s will be vital. The NDSU star was unable to build chemistry during the voluntary workout phase one year ago, due to rehabbing an ACL injury suffered in week 14 of the 2017 season. Mike Groh, his new offensive coordinator, was still working with Nick Foles as his QB1 as a result which was obviously going to play an impact sooner or later.
But now, without a knee brace and looking fully healthy once again, the leader of the Philadelphia Eagles is picking right up where he left off last season.
“Getting together with DeSean was probably the biggest one, and then adding J.J. [WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside] through the draft. It’s just spending time, having those guys out there.” Pederson continued. “You’re seeing those guys connect even after plays are done, plays are through, and [they’re] talking: Carson kind of going through what he saw and what they saw. That’s what it takes. This is that time where we can work out some of those details and really get on the same page with everybody.
It seems as though everything is going smoothly down at the NovaCare Complex, and if Carson Wentz set a career-high in completion percentage despite all of the adversity last season, just imagine what he can do with players like DeSean Jackson and Arcega-Whiteside providing a very unique receiving threat in any given situation.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports