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What Makes ArDarius Stewart a Special Talent

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Scouting Notes

What Makes ArDarius Stewart a Special Talent

Stewart is overlooked by the national media, but why? Sure, he comes from a low volume pass offense at Alabama that stopped him from having gaudy numbers, but what trait isn’t worthy of making him a top 50 pick. In my eyes, there isn’t one.

In 2016 Stewart caught 54 balls for 864 yards and 8 touchdowns even while missing 3 games. He showed his yards after catch potential nearly every time he touched the ball, as he averaged 16 yards a catch. He also had 8 carries and averaged 8.5 yards per carry. Numbers don’t correlate to NFL success, but traits do. Stewart showed consistent run after the catch ability.

When Stewart catches the ball underneath he looks to turn it up field immediately. He uses his 5’11”, 204 lbs frame to his advantage on each play. He has elite burst and acceleration and shows the ability to make defenders miss in the open field.

It’s not just his athleticism, but his vision and understanding of defensive leverage that make him elite. He can be given a reverse and, seeing the defense has him outflanked where the play is designed to go, cut up field. He can be thrown a screen and read in a flash which lane gives him the highest chance of success. He has the vision of and tenaciousness of a running back.

While Stewart can be elite after the catch that is not his only elite trait. How often are explosive play makers also elite blockers? The best one that comes to mind is Demaryius Thomas. Stewart can block like Thomas and shows it on a consistent basis. Stewart plays the game with an edge, he likes to hit players in the mouth on crack blocks and drive receivers back, opening big lanes. He doesn’t just look to hold his blocks he is looking to finish them every time. On plays down the field, Stewart consistently comes back to the play and throws a block to spring the ball carrier for more yards. His effort is undeniable when you watch the tape, and he has the skill set to match his effort. He can come in and be a great addition to any NFL team’s run game.

 

A key aspect to any receiver’s game is body control and the ability to high point a football. The ability to catch the ball isn’t as simple as catches and drops, but how you catch it and can you make difficult plays. While Stewart wasn’t asked to make a ton of these plays, he showed good body control and the ability to high point a football. Stewart is only 5’11”, but he plays bigger than his size. His speed allows him to get behind the defense, but on under throws he can come back to get the ball. He has a large catch radius, showing the ability to catch the ball away from his body, including behind him, without it throwing him too far off stride.

Check out Stewart’s gauntlet drill at the combine:

Stewart’s route running is also a thing of beauty. He understands zone concepts and shows the ability to settle between zones. He also has the lateral quickness to break defenders down. He needs to develop his route tree further, but the routes he ran at Alabama were very successful. His acceleration and ability to get out of breaks will allow him to continue to develop in this area, and he will make for a very difficult cover in the NFL. He shows the ability both to separate from defenders on the deep ball and go over the middle and make catches.

Stewart is a rare talent at wide receiver. Explosive play makers with great body control who are good route runners and punishing run blockers don’t typically go overlooked. However, Stewart isn’t getting the attention he deserves. When his name is called on draft day it will be much higher than most people expect, and while people may be sleeping on him now, when he gets on the field all football fans will be wide awake to watch him.

 

Eliot Crist

Eliot Crist is a National Scout for NDT Scouting Services. He also works for Pro Football Focus as an analyst. He has experience in draft breakdowns, tendency scouting reports, and player evaluations. Eliot is passionate about breaking down film, showing the good and bad of players explaining what he sees in a player. He frequently appears as a guest analyst on football podcasts.

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