Expert Opinion: M.J. Stewart’s Profile
M.J. Stewart graduated as the all-time ACC leader in career passes defended (41) demonstrating Stewart’s physical style of play. A four-year starter at North Carolina, Stewart was the defensive sparkplug playing primarily on the boundary.
With a stocky frame at 5’10″, 200 lbs., broad shoulders/chest and decent arm length, Stewart excels at the LOS in a press technique. Stewart is competent in man and zone coverage and demonstrates good discipline in assignments. Fundamentally sound – able to mirror receivers, turns head around to locate ball, quick-footed, and fluid hips. Best assets include physicality in coverage, aggressive hand usage disrupting receiver routes, and great ball awareness and anticipation. Stewart physical natures makes up for lack of height. However, he gets outmuscled at the catch point against taller, stronger receivers and doesn’t possess impressive vertical speed.
Equally physical in the box against the run, shows adequate speed off the edge blitzing, strong tackling form, and has a nose for the ball. Can get bullied against bigger TE’s and struggles to shed blocks but doesn’t shy from contact. Demonstrates toughness and is comfortable in run support – good versatility.
Stewart translates to more of a nickel defender at the next level that can float all over the field. His stocky frame and lateral agility will allow him to cover inside slot receivers, which is in demand. His aggressive style of play is a blessing and a curse as he isn’t shy to hold, grab, and clobber receivers on routes that could translate to a PI liability. Stewart’s natural coverage skills, toughness and on-field leadership will be coveted at a 3rd round price tag.