Realistic Projections for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s Second Season

unnamed (1)

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s rookie season didn’t exactly pan out the way many were hoping. Due to lack of opportunity and inability to separate as an NFL receiver, JJAW finished the season with a paltry stat-line and a depreciated buzz regarding his future. However, he will get a shot at redemption in his second year with Alshon Jeffery starting the season on the sideline. Nevertheless, the Eagles brought in a slew of receivers to push for snaps and the second year man will be under the microscope early.

It’s easy to have hope for Arcega-Whiteside when looking at his college production and physical acumen. Many fans will be expecting a big jump from year one to year two — as many receivers take in their second year in the league. Still, a shocking lack of production in year one leaves a lot to be desired. So, what are realistic projections for JJAW’s year two?

I compiled the stats for all second-round receivers taken since 2014 and compared their first year to their second year (not including receivers taken in last year’s draft). There were 21 receivers on that list, a group that included a mixed bag of success — from Michael Thomas to Devin Smith. Below are the average stats for second-round receivers over their first two years.

1st Year13.76.939.065.5487.33.5
2nd Year13.48.650.086.6643.04.0

I then took these averages and calculated the percentage increase from year one to year two to calculate a base projection for Arcega-Whiteside’s second season.

% Inc-2.4%25.0%28.0%32.2%32.0%13.5%

This is the bottom line projection, the average for both success stories and abject busts. If JJAW is to have any hope for a career in the NFL, he should at least hit these targets. Applied to his 2019 stats, his projection looks like this:

% IncGGSRecTgtYdsTDs

Beginning with such poor rookie stats sets JJAW up for a disappointing stat-line when calculating by percent increase. Understandably, a 223-yard season would leave a sour taste in the mouths of many. However, this is a fairly reasonable projection when considering where J.J. will be in the depth chart. The numbers seem to agree.

I then took the numbers of the second round receivers in this group that improved their stats from year one to year two. That whittled the list down to thirteen. Their average stats look like:

1st Year14.18.346.175.0562.34.3
2nd Year16.012.871.9127.5992.85.5

Now, this list includes stars such as Jarvis Landry, Michael Thomas, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Sterling Shepard who started their careers off on fire as well as receivers such as Allen Robinson, D.J. Chark and James Washington, who took huge leaps in their second years. It also includes players that saw just marginal increases from year one to year two such as Davante Adams, Curtis Samuel, and Anthony Miller. Regardless, each of these receivers had much better first year’s than JJAW. Their year two increases are below:

% Inc15.3%53.7%56.1%70.1%65.5%28.6%

Applying that to JJAW’s 2019 totals:

% IncGGSRecTgtYdsTDs

Again, these are not very promising totals. However, what is promising is the almost 40 targets that come Arcega-Whiteside’s way in this projection. If he is able to capitalize on those opportunities better than he did in his rookie season, he could put up some solid numbers.

He was able to manage 16.9 yards per reception in his rookie year, despite just a 45% catch rate on an 81.8% catchable target rate. It’s telling that he averaged 16.4 yards per catch in college as well. If he is able to push his catch percentage closer to 65% and maintain a 16.5 ypc average, he could total 24 receptions for almost 400 yards. While those may not be eye-popping numbers, it would be a good step for his career. After all, Davante Adams’ totals in his second year were 50 receptions on 94 targets for 483 yards and one touchdown — just look at him now.

With Alshon Jeffery out to start the season, the hope is that JJAW will get his fair share of targets early in the season. With the Eagles stating they will keep rookie Jalen Reagor at just one position, the team will need someone to occupy the X receiver role. Arcega-Whiteside is the obvious choice. If he can learn to create separation and he can develop some trust with Carson Wentz, his stats may be far beyond the totals above.