Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Three things to know about M.J. Stewart
By Bailey Adams
1. He Has Versatility
M.J. Stewart was an interesting pick for the Buccaneers simply because he has so much versatility. He has spent a lot of time outside at cornerback, but could move inside and work as a slot corner or move back to safety. His NFL.com draft profile touts his physicality and tackling ability as a reason that he could move to safety, but he said in a conference call that the team told him they will likely use him inside or at safety.
Using Stewart inside would seemingly indicate that Tampa Bay believes in Vernon Hargreaves III’s ability to work on the outside. He moved to nickel last year after struggling on the outside, but the Bucs could move him back. On the other side of things, moving Stewart to safety could be intriguing as well. Pairing him with Justin Evans would give Tampa Bay a young safety tandem that could anchor the secondary for the foreseeable future. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Stewart is around the same size as Evans.
NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein mentions Stewart’s ability to play both off-man and press-man. Considering how the Bucs like to run their defense, that success playing off the receiver could pay off. We’ll have to see how he slots in over the coming months, but the fact that he can play three different positions definitely helps a Tampa Bay defense that ranked dead last in the NFL a season ago.