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Why Not J.J. Arcega-Whiteside at TE?

It might be a long-shot but JJAW's got a chance at tight end

A positional switch in the NFL four years into a career of a former second-round pick?

That's never the plan, to say the least, but that's where we are with the Eagles and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, the former Stanford star receiver who has managed a grand total of 16 receptions over his first three seasons.

When JJAW's work has been lauded over the past three seasons, it's usually been about his work as a blocker or on special teams.

Entering the final year of his rookie deal, the decision was made to move Arcega-Whiteside to tight end in an attempt to salvage what most have already written off as a sunken cost.

"He was a heavier wide receiver, and it's not going to be hard for him to put on some weight and take his athleticism over to the tight end side where he can create a little bit different mismatches there against safeties and linebackers as opposed to corners and nickels," coach Nick Sirianni said earlier this spring.

" So, I think that will help J.J."

To be honest, moving on remains the most likely scenario and the heavy betting favorite is the Eagles releasing Arcega-Whiteside this summer at the cutdown to 53.

That said, the team's situation at tight end leaves the door slightly ajar to JJAW shocking the world (OK, the Delaware Valley) and making  Sirianni's team as a backup to Dallas Goedert.

The unofficial depth chart right now reads Goedert, who is a top-5 player at the position, and uncertainty behind him with second-year player Jack Stoll, an undrafted rookie out of Nebraska in 2021, entering camp slightly ahead of sixth-round pick Grant Calcaterra, once a budding star at Oklahoma before concussions paused his career before resuming things at SMU.

From there, old faithful Richard Rodgers remains the break-glass in case of emergency option at 30, along with Noah Togiai, the rehabbing Tyree Jackson, and JJAW himself.

Dallas Goedert Talks Gronk
Eagles TE Jack Stoll
Grant Calcaterra at Eagles Rookie Camp
Tyree Jackson
Richard Rodgers on Goedert and Giants
Eagles WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

If you were handicapping the six-player race behind Goedert, Arcega-Whiteside would have the longest odds but the grouping is filled with question marks meaning opportunity remains.

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The only gimmee outside of Goedert was Jackson, the ex-Buffalo quarterback who has significant upside to go along with amazing athleticism at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds but Jackson tore his ACL in Week 18, typically a nine-month injury which would put the start of the 2022 season in doubt for the second-year player.

Jackson was on the field at both OTAs open to the media this spring which indicated he's coming along nicely but he was wearing a large brace during the first session.

From there, Stoll proved to be a capable blocker as a rookie but doesn't offer much explosion as a receiver as his four receptions for only 22 yards highlights.

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Both the organization and Calcaterra insist that any concussion concerns are in the rear-view mirror and he does offer intriguing upside as a pass-catcher but limited ability as an in-line blocker. Counting on a rookie sixth-round pick in the NFL is never a comfortable feeling, however.

Rodgers is the NFL's version of what baseball would call a "professional hitter." 

The veteran knows how to play but has limitations from a physical perspective which is why there are 14 different transactions on his Eagles resume. The organization wants to improve but it keeps having to dip back into the Rodgers well.

Togiai, meanwhile, seems like he caught the eye of the old coaching staff but is having a more difficult time with this one, which leaves JJAW, who has embraced the move according to the organization and bought in by gaining 12 pounds to go from 225-pound wideout to 237-pound flex TE.

In many ways, Arcega-Whiteside already checks the boxes when it comes to blocking on the outside and Michael Clay's special teams units. He's also typically been a good training camp player so while a run toward the 53 is unlikely, a path for it does exist.

"Last year he was our, what you would call our enforcer, right, our hockey enforcer as far as you go in there and you block this guy and get physical with him, and he did a really good job with that," said Sirianni.

"I think we saw the talent there that he's got some nastiness to him, some feistiness to him. He showed it on special teams as well. And now he's going to try to do that at tight end, and we are excited about the project that we have at hand for him."

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen