The New RB and WR

Posted: April 27th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on The New RB and WR

Let’s go into more detail on the newest Eagles, RB Miles Sanders and WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Miles Sanders came to Penn State as an elite recruit. He sat behind Saquon Barkley for two years. When Sanders did get on the field, he was impressive. Sanders averaged 7.4 yards per carry as a freshman and was also the KOR. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry as a sophomore.

Barkley got drafted and Sanders got his shot to be the guy at PSU. He made the most of it.

Those tweets are from last fall. I am a Penn State fan and watch every snap of all of their games. Sanders has been on my radar as an NFL prospect for a couple of years.

Sanders was 220-1274-9 last year. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry. By comparison, here was Saquon Barkley in 2017…217-1271-18. Aside from TDs, those numbers are almost identical. How crazy is that? I’m not saying Sanders is as good as Barkley. He is definitely a notch lower in talent. Barkley is a freak. Sanders is a mere mortal, but still incredibly talented.

Sanders is 5-11, 211. He is a N-S runner, but has the ability to take things outside. He is not a dancer. The worst thing about Barkley was his habit of bouncing around the backfield looking for the big opening. Sanders will go hit the hole, even if there isn’t much there. He trusts the play. If there is a cutback lane, he’s got the vision and footwork to take advantage of that, but he won’t force things. That cuts down on bad TFLs. When it is 3rd and 1, Sanders focuses on getting the first down. He runs smart.

Put Sanders out in space and he is able to make defenders miss. He’s more elusive than some give him credit for. I love the way he reads his blocks on the second level or out in space. Sanders runs under control and patiently works off his blockers. He has excellent vision and a strong feel for where to run. Making this even more effective is the fact Sanders runs with balance and strength. He doesn’t go down on first contact. He will slide off some tackles and just keep working down the field. Sanders runs well in traffic. Another great quality…he doesn’t run out of bounds or tackle himself. He keeps working for every yard possible. Sanders uses his off-arm really well. He keeps tacklers from getting into his body or legs.

Sanders has the speed to get out wide or to really take off when he is on the loose. He can be a big play RB. He has very good footwork. This allows him to be elusive, but also to find the holes and cutback lanes that lead to big plays.

Sanders was 32-193-1 as a receiver at PSU. He’s got good hands and the potential to really develop as a receiver in the NFL.

Watch the Wisconsin game and you’ll see Sanders in a complete game. He converts on 3rd/4th and short. He delivers big plays to the outside. He runs hard up the middle. He leaps defenders. He catches a couple of passes. UW was the #29 defense in the nation last year so this wasn’t some patsy that Sanders was running over/around.

Part of the reason to watch that game is you can see some flaws as well. Sanders was involved in a couple of fumbles. His pass blocking was up and down. He does have issues that need to be worked on.  Duce Staley will help Sanders to become a complete player.

Sanders had a great showing at the Combine.

40 – 4.49
BP – 20 reps
3 Cone – 6.89
VJ – 36 inches

Those are great numbers. Sanders was even more impressive in the on-field workout. He looked so natural, fluid and athletic. He was the best RB on the field.

Sanders is a talented, athletic RB who has the potential to be a star in the NFL. Great pick by the Eagles. I don’t think I have to write much about how he fits in. Sanders will push Jordan Howard for reps this year and should be the starter in 2020 and beyond. Great fit for the Eagles offense.


J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was a 3-star recruit from South Carolina who decided to play for Stanford. If that sounds unusual, it’s because it is. JJAW isn’t your standard player and doesn’t have a standard story. His parents met while playing professional basketball overseas. JJAW was born in Spain. He had visited eight foreign countries by the time he was two years old. That background has shaped him and helped him to become an interesting young man. He chose Stanford because of academics first and athletics second. Not your typical football player.

JJAW redshirted and then became a role player in 2016. He started the next two seasons and became a weapon for the Cardinal. He finished his career 135-2219-28. He averaged 16.4 yards per reception for his career.

JJAW opened the 2018 season by going 6-226-3 against San Diego State. I watched part of the game and took notice of the talented receiver making all the big plays. Over the next two weeks, he posted solid numbers. Then came a showdown with Oregon. I found myself pulling for the Ducks in that game. They built a 24-7 lead at halftime. Stanford clawed their way back into the game. JJAW caught a TD pass late in the game to cut the lead to 31-28. A miracle led to the game being tied and Stanford won in OT.

It was frustrating to watch the game. JJAW caught 4 passes for 84 yards and a pair of TDs. I remember thinking “How hard is it to cover that guy?”. Stanford didn’t have a dynamic QB or elite set of receivers. How were teams letting this guy beat them over and over? JJAW continued to produce at a high level all year long. He had a great year.

He is big at 6-2, 225. As you would imagine, JJAW has a basketball background. That shows up even on the football field. There are times when it looks like he’s just boxing out the DB. That gives the QB a big target to throw the ball to.

JJAW is the best Red Zone receiver in the draft. He is the best contested-catch receiver as well. JJAW doesn’t care about having to fight through contact to get to the ball. He uses his size, strength and skill to win those battles. One of the arguments against him is that he must not be good at getting open if he’s so good at fighting DBs for the ball. This isn’t the case. JJAW is a good route runner and gets a great release. He can win off the line of scrimmage. But those plays when he is tightly covered, he can still win. That’s what you want in a receiver.

Some people wondered about his speed. JJAW ran a 4.49 at his Pro Day, showing he’s got plenty of speed for a guy who is 225 pounds. When you watch the game tape, there are plays when he runs right by CBs. That isn’t just workout speed.

The best thing about JJAW is his hands. Size is good. Speed is good. Athleticism is good. But if a WR can’t catch the ball really well, all those other traits get lost. JJAW has outstanding hands. I love the way he consistently extends for the ball and catches it away from his body. That will serve him well in the NFL. He has strong hands and just plucks the ball.

JJAW has great body control. That is an underrated trait for receivers. They must be able to adjust to the ball and/or the defender. JJAW does that really well. He does an excellent job of locating the ball when he’s downfield. That helps him to figure out how he needs to adjust to the ball. JJAW uses his hands to push off in a subtle way. He doesn’t fully extend his arms. That draws the OPI flags. He does it discreetly.

I liked the JJAW pick, but didn’t love it. I had him rated as a third round player. I felt there were better receivers still on the board. JJAW isn’t special after the catch. Maybe part of that is on the way Stanford used him, but I didn’t see anything great from him once the ball was in his hands. JJAW isn’t explosive, on tape or his workouts. That isn’t a necessity, but it is worth noting when talking about a WR.

So why did the Eagles like him so much? We have to guess a bit here. We do know they like big guys. JJAW has good size. He is a Red Zone weapon and that was a weakness for the Eagles last year. The team already had some good RZ weapons, but adding more is never a bad thing. And JJAW would instantly be the best at going up and getting the ball. JJAW can play in the slot or outside. He will block. I have to think the Eagles loved him as a locker room fit.

Joe Douglas mentioned JJAW’s value because he’s weather-proof. When it is cold, big, physical receivers can still go win. Wind…rain…snow? Doesn’t matter. Big guys can still go get the ball. Speedy receivers aren’t always as effective when the weather is nasty.

This pick is about the future more than the present. The Eagles don’t believe you can count on rookie receivers. Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor will be the key guys. Mack Hollins will be the key guy off the bench. It is up to JJAW to carve out a role for himself, like Hollins did back in 2017. Show the coaches you deserve to be on the field and they will find a way to use you.

I don’t have a good feeling for what JJAW’s ceiling is. He reminds me of the kind of receivers the Packers have rolled out for years. I do think JJAW’s best football is ahead of him. He didn’t play in a dynamic scheme at Stanford. Eagles coaches are good at creating favorable matchups.

The Eagles added a big guy who runs well and has outstanding hands. When you boil it down to simple terms like that, it is hard not to like this pick.


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