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2017 NFL Draft Profile: New York Jets select WR ArDarius Stewart in the Third Round

Tide’s utility receiver is a physical addition to Jets

CFP National Championship Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

ArDarius Stewart is a player who improved every year he was on campus, from occasionally brilliant freshman moments to competing-then-winning a starting job to finally becoming the Tide’s second-leading receiver and most explosive option in 2016. So, it was easy to see why the 6’1” 207 pounder from Fultondale would want to strike while the iron was hot; but, at the same time, you wonder if playing his senior season would have raised his draft stock?

Some things in Stewart’s game were not going to improve: He has good game speed, body control, and is very physical off the line, with the ball in the air, and as a blocker. His competitiveness is beyond question. However, he is still prone to the dropsies and is not the most polished route runner. But, after an All-SEC campaign, and with steady improvement every season (and three quarterbacks in three years,) Stewart thought now was the time to leave while he hones those skills in the NFL.


NFL Draft experts offer opinions on ArDarius Stewart, Zach Cunningham

“Really like him,” an AFC executive told Zierlein about Stewart. “He’s got a dog mindset and just kind of launches into everything he does. Typical Alabama player but he’s on that high end of the competitive scale, which is a big compliment.”

Regarding Cunningham, an AFC East regional scout told Zierlein: “He needs to be uncovered so he can fly around and just go get the ball. He didn’t have much help over there and he took it upon himself to make as many plays as possible. I love that mindset.”

From CBS

Talented ball tracker with skills to win the deep ball on a consistent basis when matched one on one. Body control for mid-air adjustments is superb and his hands are like clamps. Very strong player and can take the ball away from corners when he needs to. Has kick return talent that translates into the NFL. Competitive runner after catch with skills that mirror a running back. Will elude certain tacklers and punish others. When asked to block and sustain, he's willing to do his part.


The NFL draftniks questioned whether his yards arose from the POP and screen game; however, I suspect that’s more ignorance or limited viewing than actually watching his play all three years. Stewart did benefit from YAC, but he is at his best as an intermediate target after the catch, where his elusiveness and physicality help. He doesn’t have the greatest straight line speed, so he’ll never be a team’s first option and one suspects that WR2 is his natural position.

Routes could use more sharpness at his break points. Wasn't asked to create route separation on short and intermediate routes very often. Will need to work aggressively back to the ball as a pro. Can you get too cute with the ball in his hands and run himself out of yardage. There is still room for improvement with his hands.

A team looking for a competitive, physical and steady presence will benefit from having him on the roster. It’s no coincidence with his resume that many see him being projected to Pittsburgh, where the gritty Hines Ward was a mainstay of the receiving corps for over a decade. And, in many respects, that is who he reminds you of. If he has a career half as decorated as the all-but-certain Hall of Famer, it will have been a really nice job by ArDarius.

Stewart in the ninth Crimson Tide player selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.