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New York Jets

Ardarius Stewart | The versatile weapon with a linebacker’s attitude

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver ArDarius Stewart (13) leaps for the reception during the SEC Championship football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida Gators on December 3, 2016, at Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Alabama defeated Florida 54-16. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)
(Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)

When the New York Jets selected Ardarius Stewart with the 79th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, many wondered, “Why wide receiver?” The team had plenty of other needs and boasted young, ascending talent at the wide receiver position, but still lacked a threat that can create on his own outside of Quincy Enunwa.

Then the news broke that Devin Smith would miss the entire season with another ACL tear. Meanwhile, veteran Eric Decker is coming off of multiple surgeries and is questionable to be ready for camp. Everything started to add up and after watching plenty of Stewart’s college film it’s evident his skill set fits a hole in John Morton’s offense.

Playing Big

While only listed at 5-foot-11, Stewart is a smaller athlete who plays big. He can get sky-high for the deep ball with good tracking ability to win at the catch point over defenders.

He’s physical and quick off the line of scrimmage with powerful hands and the ability to work off of jams. In traffic, he had little trouble shielding defenders to win the ball, but also showed an extra gear to get over the top to challenge vertically.

The Creator 

With a freshman quarterback running the show for Alabama last year, he needed all the help he could get. Screens, pitch passes and plenty of other manufactured touches found their way to Stewart where he did his best work to create yards.

As noted by Edward Gorelik from Turn On The Jets, Stewart possesses the build and even some traits of a running back (that thread will show you why Edward feels Stewart’s best bet long-term would be a position switch).

He’s incredibly strong after the catch, with would-be tackling defensive backs flying off of him in the open field as seen above. In 2016 he averaged 10.7 yards after the catch while also forcing 21 total missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

His acceleration and ability to weave through traffic for more yards are uncanny, easily being his most pro-ready skill that can contribute to an NFL offense right away.

Attitude

Some players just live for contact, making their presence felt on any play possible. Stewart is the classic case of a guy that will play through the whistle. Alabama had little problem working outside runs his way where he can find a target at the second level of the field to lay his pads into.

Brandon Marshall’s presence will be missed in the Jets offense and no rookie wide receiver can replace what he brought to the table each week. With that being said, the Jets want to be a run heavy team that will punch you in the mouth from all angles. Stewart’s physicality and aggression will certainly aid the cause.

Overview

Stewart will have the chance to find an instant impact role in the Jets young offense. With Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa penciled in to start, Stewart will look to work the underneath game as a number three wide out while splitting reps with Robby Anderson (who does his best work vertically). Charone Peake, Jalin Marshall, Gabe Marks and K.D. Cannon will battle it out to provide depth on the back-end.

He has the skill set of a poor man’s Jarvis Landry, which should add up to an impactful NFL number three wide receiver. Offensive coordinator John Morton needs to run scripted plays that get Stewart manufactured touches to create in the open field.

It’s no secret the Jets quarterback situation (whether Josh McCown or Christian Hackenberg) will need all of the help it can get. With Stewart in the fold, things might have gotten a little bit easier.

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