With their lone third-round selection in the 2017 NFL draft, the New York Jets selected Ardarius Stewart from Alabama. Stewart isn’t your typical NFL wide receiver, but he has the potential to be a unique weapon.
Coming into the 2017 NFL Draft, many fans didn’t expect to see the New York Jets address the wide receiving corps in any way. The team had plenty of young, promising talent on the roster with players such as Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, and Charone Peake.
Things changed quickly though, as the Jets were on the clock in the third round with a particular player in mind. The Jets went ahead and selected the intriguing, Ardarius Stewart, who played under Nick Saban at Alabama.
While Stewart is a very intriguing prospect, it’s not difficult to see why some analysts don’t have a great amount of confidence in him. The twenty-three-year-old doesn’t have the typical build of an NFL receiver standing at 5’11” and 204 lbs. Normally, receivers who lack size tend to have top-flight speed. Stewart lacks this though as he ran a fairly average 4.49 forty yard dash at this year’s NFL Draft Combine.
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Stewart makes up for his lack of elite straight-line speed with dynamic open-field ability. He does a great job of getting as many yards after the catch as possible due to his outstanding athleticism, physicality, strength, and determination.
He has the tools in his skill set to make explosive catches down the field. He naturally tracks the football in the air and can adjust to it as necessary. He also has a fairly large catch radius along with the ability to get in the air and make tough, acrobatic catches.
Another great skill that Stewart has is the ability to come out of the backfield effectively. During his three seasons at Alabama, he saw a lot of action on end-arounds, screen passes, and even handoffs. This is the skill that will make him a very versatile weapon in the NFL as defensive coordinators will have to plan for various different things with Stewart on the opposing sideline.
Stewart does have some things he’ll need to work in order to become an effective NFL receiver such as his route running and hands-catching. However, Stewart does have the foundation of skills to make a very significant impact at some point in his career. If developed correctly, Jets fans will love what Stewart has to offer.