MJ STEWART | CB | NORTH CAROLINA
Height: 5107 | Weight: 200 | Arm: 31 1/4" | Hand: 9 1/4" | 40 Time: 4.54 | 10-Split: 1.59 | Bench: 18 | 3Cone: 6.90 | Broad: 118" | Vertical: 35"
MJ Stewart is a fourth-year Senior defensive leader who added versatility to the Tar Heels secondary bouncing from the nickel to right cornerback position. The 2017 All-ACC Honorable Mention player holds the all-time ACC record with 41 pass deflections across 49 games in his four years as a starter. While Stewart gets his hands on a lot of footballs, he only has 6 career interceptions and hasn't picked off a pass since 2015. Per PFF, Stewart allowed 25 receptions on 52 targets for 303 yards and 3 TDs for a passer rating of 85.7 and was the highest overall graded Tar Heel in 2017. Stewart had the 7th best cover snaps/reception average (20.2) playing from the Slot and his 199 career tackles show his production in run support. Stewart also posted a 11.3 yard average in his lone season as a punt returner in 2017 and adds some experience as a return specialist.
Stewart harbors average height with a broad, stocky chest and really strong upper body that he showcased with 18 bench reps at the Combine. Stewart is a solid athlete with good body control with average foot speed.
While he is not a jaw-dropping athlete, Stewart is a very good mental processor and he uses his ability to key and diagnose to put him in good positions to make plays on the football. In man coverage, Stewart shows good ability to mirror quick-twitch receivers when lined up in the slot and does well to remain disciplined with his eyes and not guess on routes. In zone coverage, Stewart is quick to recognize his assignment and does well to anticipate and break on his receiver before the ball comes out of the QB's hands. When lined up outside, Stewart shows good hip fluidity to flip and stay in-phase, but struggles with concentration and can get out-muscled at the catch point against taller, more physical X receivers, especially in red zone situations when on the boundary. In run support, Stewart is willing to get his nose dirty but easily gets washed out by bigger tight ends in space and has difficulty getting off blocks when engaged. Stewart is reliable as an open field tackle and shows good finishing ability and consistency in wrapping up.
While Stewart is an emotional heartbeat on the field, teams will have to become comfortable with his off-the-field character. During his sophomore year in October 2015, Stewart was indefinitely suspended by Head Coach Larry Fedora after getting hit with one count of misdemeanor assault and battery after an incident at a frat house. The same incident caused now-UCF CB Mike Hughes to leave the program and attend Garden City Community College before joining the Knights, so teams will need to dig and make sure that Stewart has matured from the incident. Stewart had perhaps the most impressive showing of all the defensive backs at the Senior Bowl and routinely locked down his assignment all week. Stewart compares in body type and play style to Damarious Randall and while his best position at the next level is as an inside slot corner due to his stocky frame and lateral control, his versatility to move outside in different fronts or due to injury will add to his draft value.
Overall Grade: 76
Athletic Ability: 4
Play Strength: 5
Play Speed: 6
Competitive Toughness: 7
Press Coverage: 4
Man Coverage: 4
Zone Coverage: 4
Make-Up Speed: 3
Player Comparison: Damarious Randall
Projected Round: Round 3/4
For information on our grading criteria, click here.