Photo of Jonathan Stewart
Grade
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  • 4.48 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 28 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 36.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 128.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 5'11" Height
  • 235LBS. Weight

Overview

While other running backs received considerable national attention, tucked away in Eugene, Oregon, was an athlete many feel was the most complete running back in college football in 2007 -- Jonathan Stewart.

He has the size of a fullback, the strength of an offensive lineman and the quickness of a sprinter. Playing with a style that reminds pro scouts of Kansas City's Larry Johnson, Stewart proved, even through injuries, perfectly capable of handling the rushing load.

Despite starting just 25 games at Oregon, he ranks second in school history with 2,891 yards rushing. His 198 points scored is the sixth-best career total in Ducks annals and his 4,889 all-purpose yards rank third on the school's career list. His 1,722 yards on the ground in 2007 was the most ever by a running back at the university and rank ninth on the Pac-10 single-season chart. He also used his 233-pound frame as a kickoff returner, finishing second on Oregon's career charts with a 28.69-yard average and 1,664 yards gained.

Few prospects in the Northwest attracted the attention to the magnitude that Stewart received during his playing days at Timberline High School. The state of Washington's all-time rushing leader accumulated 7,755 yards on the ground with 95 touchdowns in a career in which he eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier in each of his four prep seasons.

Stewart was placed atop the nation's list of running back recruits on Parade magazine's All-American team, Student Sports Hot 100 list as well as Prep Star's Top 100 Dream Team, and was one of five finalists for the Walter Payton Trophy (nation's top prep player). He was named Washington Class 3A Offensive co-Player of the Year and state Gatorade Player-of-the-Year as a senior.

The tailback was a member of USA Today's 2004 All-USA team, the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West first-team, the Northwest Nuggets squad by the Tacoma News Tribune and EA Sports' All-American squad. He played in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was named the News Tribune's 2004-05 High School Male Athlete of the Year. Rivals.com rated him the best player in the state of Washington and 10th overall in the nation.

Stewart rushed for 2,301 yards and 32 scores as a senior, averaging 11.3 yards per carry, in addition to returning one of three punts 91 yards into the end zone. That year, he had single-game bests of 422 yards rushing vs. Centralia High, including nine touchdowns.

As a junior, he rushed for 2,609 yards and 36 touchdowns to garner first-team All-State accolades by the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune, as well as state Class 3A Player-of-the-Year praise by the former news organization.

During his sophomore year, Stewart gained 1,575 yards on the ground in 2002 before breaking his left ankle. He also competed in track. He placed second in the 2005 state track 100-meter championships (11.17), in addition to anchoring school's 4x100-meter relay to a state title.

Oregon won a fierce recruiting battle for Stewart's services in 2005, as he turned down scholarship offers from Southern California, Tennessee, California, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State. An ankle injury limited him to 10 games as a true freshman, serving as the "caddy" for starter Terrence Whitehead. However, the youngster made the most out of limited opportunities, as he averaged one touchdown for every eight times he touched the ball.

Stewart would earn Freshman All-Pac-10 Conference honors from The Sporting News. He scored six times on 53 carries for 188 yards (3.5-yard average), returned 12 kickoffs for 404 yards (33.7-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns and caught seven passes for 45 yards and another score.

A series of ankle injuries throughout 2006 was the main culprit preventing Stewart from cracking the 1,000-yard rushing barrier. The second-team All-Pac-10 choice was also hampered by rib cartilage damage, a chest muscle strain and a neck strain as a sophomore.

He still managed to lead the team with 981 hard-fought yards and 10 scores on 183 carries (5.4-yard average). He caught 20 passes for 144 yards (7.2 avg) and a touchdown, adding 646 yards on 23 kickoff returns (28.1 avg). Despite all of those injuries, he piled up 1,771 all-purpose yards, the fifth-best season total in school annals.

Stewart battled a turf toe injury, an ankle sprain and a hand contusion in 2007. He still put together a banner season, setting school records with 1,722 yards rushing and 2,481 all-purpose yards. His average of 132.46 yards per game on the ground, ranked seventh nationally while his average of 190.85 all-purpose yards ranked ninth, leading the conference in both categories.

He averaged 6.2 yards on 280 carries, scoring 11 times. He gained 614 yards on 23 kickoff returns (26.7-yard average) and snared 22 passes for 145 yards (6.6 avg), including a pair of touchdowns, as he also added one solo tackle vs. UCLA.

In 36 games at Oregon, Stewart started 25 contests. He carried 516 times for 2,891 yards (5.6-yard average) and 27 touchdowns, turning the ball over three times on five fumbles. He gained 334 yards with four scores on 49 receptions (6.8 avg) and recorded four solo tackles. He also returned 58 kickoffs for 1,664 yards (28.69 avg) and two touchdowns. He wrapped up his career with 4,889 all-purpose yards on 623 touches, an average of 135.81 yards per game.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a thick, muscular and solid build with good thigh and calf thickness, good chest development, defined muscles in his arms and shoulders and large, natural hands to secure the pigskin...Has outstanding strength, balance and quickness with no problems finding creases, shifting and running over defenders...Did not use it much when injured, but has adequate change-of-direction agility and an outstanding open-field burst...Does not show great swivel in his hips, but can weave and veer through traffic...Has that extra gear and quick feet to make crisp open-field cuts...Has natural feel, good vision and exceptional intelligence to complement his natural talent, possessing a knack to avoid tacklers in the open field...Plays hard on every play and has more than proven that he is capable of playing with pain that would sideline other runners...Hard to bring down once he clears the line and is not the type to run out of bounds, as he will not hesitate to fight for extra yardage...Won't shy away from contact, whether running with the ball or attacking defensive ends and linebackers as a blocker...Understands the offense and blocking schemes well and can easily digest a complicated playbook...Shows no hesitation attacking inside holes (will pause at times bouncing to the outside), as he has outstanding acceleration clearing trash...Has good quickness on the move and knows when to show his extra burst...Has rare ability to see the cutback lane and holes naturally, showing good savvy and ball security as a runner...Sets up and uses his blocks well and even when he takes the pitch, he knows exactly what he is going to do on his next move...Demonstrates power to break tackles and when he gets a full head of steam, even defensive linemen bounce off of him...Good downhill runner, especially when he slips through and steps over the pile...Physically stout runner who runs with powerful strides, showing great balance squeezing through tight spaces...His strong build allows him to consistently run through arm tackles and he is even stronger when he gets into the secondary...Rarely brought down by the initial tackler, getting lots of yardage after contact...Once he turns the corner, he shifts gears naturally (could not do this when playing with his ankle woes) and shows very good acceleration when taking the pitch...Covers up the ball well getting through traffic (only one fumble in 2007 and five in three seasons)...Has excellent awareness to protect the ball on kickoff returns...Despite his stocky frame, he is an ideal special-teams player who can instantly take the kickoff upfield...Not used much on fancy routes, but he has the speed to challenge the secondary...Fluid and quick through route progression, as he understands coverage and knows where to fit when working underneath...Alert to the blitz and gets into position on screens...Has dependable hands and does not struggle extending for off-target throws (can pluck out-side his frame and adjust)...Has very good toughness as a blocker, whether gaining position to mirror or putting his hat into the opponent...Does a nice job of setting up in pass protection to give the quarterback room to operate. Negatives: While he has shown the ability to play with pain, he has a long history of ankle problems dating back to 2002 and further medical evaluation is needed...Inconsistent following his blocks on outside runs and takes a moment to recognize that protection developing...Has excellent timed speed, but is not a darting runner with great shake-and-bake moves, preferring to run through tacklers rather than get too fancy with juke moves...Has good change-of-direction agility, but is a bit stiff in his hips, which could be an attempt to compensate for ankle injuries that limited cutting ability...Has good blocking technique, but despite his impressive weight-room strength, he won't stone defenders with a crunching hand punch (more likely to chip with purpose on the opponent rather than try to punish him, but he is very willing to face up)...Has the speed to turn the corner, but is sometimes caught and is more slippery than elusive. Compares To: LADAINIAN TOMLINSON-San Diego...Tomlinson and Stewart share a rare blend of power and quickness running between the tackles. Stewart has not had that many opportunities as a receiver, but demonstrates good hands to get to the pass outside his frame. He did not show his outside running ability much, more due to his ankle and other injury problems, but there is no question that he can take the ball to the house when he gets past the line of scrimmage. With his special-teams skills, he will get a lot of playing time as a rookie. With Darren McFadden being the darling at this position, teams really need to examine these two before deciding who will be the first tailback taken. McFadden collides with defenders and runs too tall in his stance to avoid injuries and one look at his performance in 2007 and you will see he had fumbling issues. If Stewart's ankles check out, teams should not hesitate to select him over McFadden. Stewart is less of a risk than either of the Razorback runners and, if his legs hold up, he'll be a punisher in the Tomlinson mold. That's hard to beat.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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