On Thursday, Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reported that former second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will transition from wide receiver to tight end in 2022.
Considering the career trajectory of JJAW up until this point, this move is hardly surprising. He clearly hasn’t worked at wideout. He doesn’t have the speed or quickness to separate from corners and he’s had several bone headed drops throughout his career.
The one area that JJAW has actually excelled in is blocking. Nick Sirianni has cited this whenever he speaks about JJAW; it’s really the only justifiable reason to play him at all. Per Pro Football Focus, JJAW posted a 78.3 pass blocking grade in 2021, by far his highest mark in any category last year.
The Eagles aren’t exactly set at tight end either, so Arcega-Whiteside may actually have a chance to make the team during camp. Dallas Goedert is the unquestioned TE1, but there are plenty of question marks behind him. Undrafted second-year tight end Jack Stoll figures to be Goedert’s backup entering camp, but he did little to nothing during his rookie campaign. His PFF receiving grade of 42.0 was actually worse than JJAW’s 46.5 mark.
Then we have Tyree Jackson, a converted quarterback who severely injured his back during camp last year and then suffered a torn ACL in Week 18. His timetable for a return is still up in the air.
While JJAW doesn’t have the speed to succeed at receiver, it’s certainly good enough to be a viable TE2. If the former second-round pick adds about 10-15 pounds of muscle, putting him at approximately 235-240 pounds, while retaining some speed and continuing to improve as a blocker, there’s no reason JJAW can’t make this transition successfully.
It feels like a desperation move for JJAW, who has disappointed nearly every step of the way during his three-year career, but it might actually pay off. Howie Roseman and Co. are clearly willing to try anything to get this kid’s career on track. JJAW is entering the final year of his rookie deal, so if this doesn’t work, he probably won’t get another chance to prove himself in Philly.