2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect: ArDarius Stewart
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 204
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The first time I saw Stewart, it was obvious he was oozing with potential. Coming to Alabama, he could have just as easily been pushed to the defensive side of the ball, but receiver is where he ended up. After redshirting and then a somewhat uneventful second year in Tuscaloosa, it seemed as if he was falling behind those who'd been exclusively playing the position all their lives. The following year, Calvin Ridley entered the season as a true freshman that looked to replace Amari Cooper as the top receiver in this offense, but that is when Stewart started to show up. Suddenly he was catching the ball more cleanly and looking more natural running his routes. He looked like a receiver and not just an athlete. As a junior, the passing attack took a step back with a freshman under center, but that didn't stop Lane Kiffin from finding ways to get the ball in Stewart's hands. He ended up leading the team in receiving and was a factor in the return game as well.
It is a combination of traits that makes Stewart special. The speed and explosion are evident when he has the ball in his hand, but he has the mentality of a running back. He lowers his shoulder on opponents and plays at full speed through the traffic without any hesitation. That is something that just can't be taught. It's a mentality that a player performs with and has developed through time. It is no doubt that his high school experience at multiple positions helped him in this area. That physical nature not only makes him tough for defensive backs to get to the ground but also a candidate to play on special teams and as a blocker in the offense. Most importantly, it makes him an added threat on reverses and quick screens which gives him increased value.
From there, he is still learning the position's finer points. He is an extremely capable deep threat, but he has to develop a feel for when to go get the ball. He occasionally loses on 50-50 balls because he doesn't attack it at the proper time. He needs to learn to attack it at its highest point, and more importantly how to time his jumps. He has the athleticism to develop in this area, and it is something that is necessary because he has that great deep speed. He is also becoming more comfortable catching the ball with his hands, but he needs to continue to improve. I still see him let the ball get to his frame too often, but as I said, we have seen him extend his hands to the ball more and more, and he looks natural doing it.
At the next level, I see his ceiling being as a number-two receiver because of his route tree. Stiffness in his hips make it difficult for him to separate on more complex routes. That doesn't mean he can't improve if he continues to work but I don't see him being someone that has success running dig routes, comebacks, or curls. Still, his ability to win deep or on quick routes, screens, and reverses make him a player that could be a difference-maker in an offense.
Overall, he is a terrific competitor, and his growth through his college career is an example of that. His work ethic is just as responsible for his day-two ranking as is his talent, and that should raise his value in some scouts' eyes. He was suspended against Chattanooga for undisclosed reasons, but that is the only issue I have found. While he may not be as complete a package as Corey Davis or Mike Williams, and may not run in the 4.3's like John Ross, he is in the next tier of receivers with guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cooper Kupp. An outstanding showing at the combine and/or his pro day could get him drafted as high as the beginning of day two.
Compares to (Current NFL Player): Pierre Garcon (Washington Redskins)
- Near-elite speed
- Physical mentality
- Added value in the return game or as a gadget player
- High work ethic and competitive nature
- Still has room to improve
- Shows glimpses of natural hands
- Lets the ball into his frame too often
- Stiff hips
- Needs to continue to refine his skills at the position
1)   MEET ARDARIUS STEWART: THE AX-WIELDING HEART AND SOUL OF ALABAMA'S OFFENSE   - BleacherReport.com |
2)   NFL Draft experts offer opinions on ArDarius Stewart, Zach Cunningham   - SEC Country |
ArDarius Stewart has breakout game in Alabama win over Mississippi State   - AL.Com |
4)   ArDarius Stewart Twitter|