49ers 2019 NFL Draft prospect profile: Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

PALO ALTO, CA - AUGUST 31: Jj Arcega-Whiteside #19 of the Stanford Cardinal catches the ball for a touchdown while covered by Ron Smith #17 of the San Diego State Aztecs at Stanford Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
PALO ALTO, CA - AUGUST 31: Jj Arcega-Whiteside #19 of the Stanford Cardinal catches the ball for a touchdown while covered by Ron Smith #17 of the San Diego State Aztecs at Stanford Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers will likely look for a strong-bodied wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft, and Stanford’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside could be the target on day two.

In all likelihood, the San Francisco 49ers are going to use one of their first three picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on a wide receiver.

After all, no Niners wideout even reached 500 yards a year ago, and the team also finished dead last in red-zone touchdown efficiency.

San Francisco already has one talented up-and-coming receiver on its roster, Dante Pettis, yet it needs a big-bodied presence capable of taking on those physical matchups at the line of scrimmage and serving as a bona fide red-zone threat.

That’s where someone like Stanford’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside could come into play on day two of the NFL Draft.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside Receiving Table

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 4/17/2019.

It’s impossible to overlook the Stanford connection between Arcega-Whiteside and the 49ers’ general manager, John Lynch. Plus, the Niners have at least a bit of intrigue in the four-year collegiate standout, bringing him into their local pro day, according to 49ers.com’s Joe Fann.

Arcega-Whiteside probably won’t be a Round 1 prospect. Yet if San Francisco is looking for a day-two addition, either in the second or third round, Arcega-Whiteside could easily wind up being the prime target.

Let’s look at what kind of player the Niners would hope to be getting.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s Strengths

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Arcega-Whiteside is the definition of an X-receiver — the kind of player capable of beating press coverage at the line of scrimmage, while using his strength to create some separation and fight for contested passes.

The 49ers passed on retaining their former X-receiver, Pierre Garçon, this offseason. So envisioning Arcega-Whiteside in a Niners uniform isn’t hard to do.

Arcega-Whiteside seems to get better close to the end zone, using his excellent hands to attack the catch point. While he doesn’t necessarily need separation to make a catch, this is an element Arcega-Whiteside has been able to show with some regularity anyway.

You can get the idea in Pro Football Focus‘ video below:

That physicality, despite relatively pedestrian speed (he ran a 4.49 40-yard time at his pro day, which isn’t bad at all), also opened up plenty of yards-after-the-catch opportunities at Stanford, too, which likely point to him being far more than just a red-zone option.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s Weaknesses

While Arcega-Whiteside’s speed is adequate enough for a bigger-bodied receiver, it can take him a bit to reach higher speeds down the field. In some ways, he’s more quick than fast, which likely limits him from being a true down-the-field target and opening up things underneath.

Speaking of X-receivers, Arcega-Whiteside can have some trouble with bigger-bodied defensive backs, both on his routes and lining up directly opposite him at the line of scrimmage. This won’t get any easier at the pro level, considering he’ll often match up with opponents’ bigger cornerbacks on a frequent basis.

Arcega-Whiteside’s route running is good, yes. But it’s far from a polished product. In many cases, he relied on that strength instead of technique, which will have to be tweaked at the pro level, too.

Potential Fit with the 49ers

Currently, Arcega-Whiteside is looking like an NFL Draft target in Rounds 2 or 3, where the 49ers are poised to select at Nos. 36 and 67 overall. A year ago, the Niners moved up in Round 2 to grab Pettis, and it wouldn’t be overly shocking to see some kind of movement again.

If Arcega-Whiteside is the top target, of course.

Pettis’ route-running abilities and savvy separation skills should lock him in as a starting Z-receiver. But Arcega-Whiteside handling the more physical duties would make him a solid choice on day two.

Plus, San Francisco lacks a true “go up and get it” wide receiver, which is one of the reasons Arcega-Whiteside made Niner Noise’s latest dark-horse mock draft.

That prowess and ball-attacking mindset is something the 49ers desperately need in their receiving corps, and Arcega-Whiteside looks to check off a lot of the necessary boxes.

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The 2019 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET.