When the offseason hit and the draft process was just about to begin I had no idea what to make of Alabama WR ArDarius Stewart. I would always hear Uncle Verne yell his name on the SEC game of the week but never really paid much attention to him during his tenure at Alabama. After I sat down and started to watch him play I realized I was sleeping on an impressive talent hiding in a run first scheme.
ArDarius Stewart measured in at 5’11 204 lbs and is built like a running back playing wide receiver. Stewart led Alabama in almost every receiving statistics by posting a 54-864-8 line during his junior year. At the NFL Combine, Stewart went out and ran a 4.49 40 that gained the attention of many evaluators out there. He has an impressive skill set that gives him a high floor in the NFL, let’s take a look at what makes Stewart so impressive.
Stewart is as impressive of a ball carrier as almost any WR in this class. In the five games I watched of his, they ran over 12+ designed runs for him. Saban and Kiffin clearly coveted his ability with the ball. He has impressive vision for a WR as well. Outside of Tavon Austin, he has the best vision I have seen in a wide receiver in my few years watching prospects.
Stewart made a living on these designed plays. Vision is something that can not be taught, you either have that ability or do not. His ability to run with the ball allows him to potentially become a valuable return specialist as well.
Yards after catch is where this guy makes his living. With his athleticism, agility and vision he could eat up yards in the slot for years in the NFL. He was easily one of the most impressive players I saw in the open field all year. In a more pass friendly offense Stewart would be a 1200+ yard WR and I am confident in saying that. He averaged nearly 18 YPC this season and it shows in the film.
He is slippery with the ball in his hands and is tough for defenders to bring down. By now, I think we have really hammered in the fact that the guy is just flat out impressive playmaker who is best with the ball in his hands.
I was impressed with Stewarts ability to go up for the ball and catch it at its highest point. As a pure wide receiver he is lacking in some aspects but he shows the potential to be a game changer downfield. This play against Florida showed me that not only can he attack the middle of the field, the guy can also go up and make a play. He actually did this multiple times at Alabama.
I love Jalen Hurts and his ability to run the ball but if Alabama had a legit passing threat I think we would see more of this from Stewart. On both of these high point catches he goes up and snatches it. You love to see WRs go up and make a play rather than body catching it with the potential of it getting intercepted.
Stewart is as versatile of a wide receiver prospect as there is. He can win at all three levels and also can win on designed runs. As a route runner Stewart is more physical than he is a technician. I fully believe we have not seen the best in ArDarius Stewart and if drafted by the right team I think he is one of the safer bets at the WR position. I would love to see Stewart drafted by a team like Carolina, Buffalo, or Philadelphia.
I gave Stewart a late 2nd/Early 3rd round grade with the potential to out perform his draft slot. Draft Stewart, use him correctly and reap in the rewards.