Name: ArDarius Stewart
Position fit: Outside WR
Stats to know: Averaged 10.7 yards after the catch per reception, second-best among Power-5 wide receivers.
What he does best:
- After-the-catch ability. Stewart is very strong with the ball in his hands. He knows when to make a cut to make a defender miss, but has no problem putting his shoulder down and running through someone.
- Good speed and excellent acceleration. Very quick feet. Used in screen/jet sweep game a lot because of his ability to get up to top speed almost instantly.
- Big catch radius. Long arms and good jumping ability, if the ball is anywhere near him that gives him a chance to make the catch.
- Intelligent player, can recognize zones and knows how to find and settle into open holes.
- Physical and very willing run-blocker, shows no fear no matter who he’s blocking.
- Route-running can be an issue. Sometimes slow out of his breaks, gives them away and can’t create separation on intermediate routes.
- Has 11 drops over the past two seasons and a few more plays where he didn’t show the strongest hands in contested situations. Body catches more than he should (even though has shown strong hands at times).
- Runs east-west more than north-south. Sometimes even went backward trying to do too much. Against college defenses this worked more than it didn’t, but it won’t be as easy in the NFL.
- Played against almost exclusively zone defense, rarely got pressed at the line of scrimmage. May not be able to beat man coverage right off the bat. Struggled to separate against teams like Washington and Clemson and their good corners.
Player comparison: Pierre Garcon, San Francisco 49ers
Garcon had a very similar profile to Stewart coming into the league. Garcon was a big, fast athlete who could beat teams deep but also did plenty of damage after the catch. Like Stewart, Garcon had little experience against man defense and press coverage, and there were questions about his route-running. Garcon learned more complex routes and how to beat press coverage and became a successful NFL receiver. Time will tell if Stewart can do the same.
Bottom line: Stewart is a quietly solid receiving prospect in this draft class. While not at the level of some of the top players, whatever team drafts Stewart will be getting a solid receiver right off the bat. His explosiveness and competitiveness will carry over to the NFL and should allow him to contribute right away, even in a small role. If he can handle press and man coverage and work on running more efficient routes, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Stewart develop into a nice No. 2 receiver in the NFL.