ArDarius Stewart will bring a new attitude and swagger to the New York Jets offense. Here are the top five reasons why.
Many fans were confused why the New York Jets selected two wide receivers in this year’s draft. So many glaring holes needed to be filled that the majority felt that the receiving crew did not need any additions.
This class was loaded with talent at edge rusher and cornerbacks. Many mock drafts had the Jets taking both positions early on. However, general manager Mike Maccagnan shocked the fan base by doubling down on back-to-back receivers in the 3rd and 4th Round.
Only time can validate those picks, but there are five key reasons why ArDarius Stewart will shine for the Jets this season. Let’s take a look at each.
Next: 5. Pedigree
He comes from one of the best and most prestigious college football teams, Alabama. For many years this program has turned out spectacular NFL players. Even though Alabama did not have a great passing game, Stewart took advantage of all his opportunities and was considered their “go to guy”.
Alabama’s passing game did not rank well last year, they were 87th overall. Stewart still ended up being the Crimson Tide’sbest-receivingg threat even with highly touted tight end O.J. Howard. Stewart missed three games but led his team in 2016 with 54 receptions, 754 yards, and eight touchdowns. Considering the run heavy scheme those are solid numbers. Also, having played in two national championships games, Stewart has the experience to handle big-game situations.
This is the type of pedigree the Jets need to turn this team back in the right direction. Obtaining the right personnel with solid football knowledge should help their offense and special teams play tremendously.
Next: 4. Intensity
Stewart has great focus and intensity. He is a player with the blue-collar, bring your lunch pail to work ethic. He plays with high emotion and a do or die mentality. Fans will grow to love his passion and competitors’ spirit. Growing up, he idolized Steve Smith and aspires to mimic his style of play.
Stewart’s intensity is sometimes too high, however. He had to miss a game due to failing the team’s behavioral policy. Some may see this as a character issue but he is a father of two and has his mindset of being a professional. Stewart will have to hone his intensity and focus his efforts positively on the field.
As for the Jets, Stewart’s mentality and play style have been missing for quite some time. Many of the offensive players of the past have been quiet or passive. Football is a full contact sport and you need to harness your emotions properly so the opponents can feel your presence.
The Jets locker room needs more players with an intense demeanor. This attribute can be electric and boost the morale of other players. I believe that Maccagnan found himself a draft gem here. Stewart’s hard nose intensity should help us move the chains and create momentum swings come game day!
Next: 3. Physicality
Stewart is one receiver that is not afraid to “bring the wood” on the field. Several times in college, Stewart was used to setting blocks on the outside for his running backs. He is fearless when in pursuit and knows how to lower his pads and drive thru the defender.
Stewart also has excellent hand fighting skills. This creates issues for corners that attempt to press him at the line. He can swat, swim thru, and burn by defenders with his vertical speed. The knock on him is his route running but with the right coaching and film study, this should improve.
Many of times Stewart was put in tough situations where he would have to compete for the ball in the air. He showed excellent concentration to high point the ball and secure the catch. Occasionally would have a focus drop but overall was very reliable even with poor quarterback play.
One thing you must be able to do in order to play for Alabama is run block. Several times Stewart would win on contact and show proper blocking form. On special teams, he once took out two defenders with one shot and created a huge lane for his return man. Special teams coach Brant Boyer will love working with Stewart, I guarantee it!
The Jets should be able to trust Stewart on running situations and this will help him get more snaps early in the season. He could put some players on the hot seat like Jalin Marshall, Robby Anderson, and Charone Peake because of his physicality.
Next: 2. Versatility
One thing I like about Stewart is his versatility in the running game, receiving and special teams. Stewart has exceptional run-after catch ability on wide receiver sweeps and screens. He was also featured on kick returns and showed good vision on finding open lanes. He is a running back inside a wide receivers body. Get the ball in his hands quickly, and he will create RAC opportunities with his elusive speed and footwork.
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While in college Stewart had the chance to flaunt his kick return skills. He averaged 20 yards per return. He also was used on a couple wide receiver pass plays and threw perfect on target spirals.
I can see him making an early impact on special teams and surprising defenses with a trick play much like last years sensation Tyreek Hill from Kansas City.
The best thing a rookie can do early in his career is be interchangeable. The Jets should be able to move him around as a plug and play weapon. Stewart can line up in the backfield and rush the ball or split out as a receiver. Give him a quick end around or smoke screen and watch him burn some rubber! His versatility should give our offense the opportunity to mask our schemes and give defensive coordinators trouble on how to game plan for his extraordinary skill set.
Next: 1. Playmaker
The West Coast offensive scheme needs a go to playmaker. That is what Stewart does best. He can be effective in the short to intermediate passing game and take the top off of a defense. He needs to work on his route running to be an elite receiver but when he gets the football and finds open space, he is very hard to tackle.
Stewart’s hips are balanced tend to generate speed very quickly when running down hill. It is undetermined if he will be featured as the No. 2 option behind Quincy Enunwa, but he should blossom when in the slot or flanker positions.
Stewart had a 16 yard receiving average per catch and 8.5 yards per rush attempt. Match that with his 20 yard kick return average and you have a dynamic threat. New offensive coordinator John Morton should look to utilize him as much as possible. With all the questions and attention looking toward other players, Stewart should fly under the radar and make a big splash.
Overall, Stewart has a unique skill set that should be featured early and often in the Jets new offensive scheme. Like all rookies, there will be a learning curve, but with some polish his pedigree, intensity, physicality, versatility and playmaking ability should help him shine during this rookie season.