No Breaststroke For M.J. Stewart

July 30th, 2018

Rookie cornerback M.J. Stewart

When general manager Jason Licht played the odds and drafted two cornerbacks in the second round this season, all he needed was one to be the real deal immediately.

Just one of those corners has to hit the ground running. And right now that’s the one Licht snatched first with the No. 53 overall pick, M.J. Stewart.

Yesterday, Koetter emphatically lauded the four-year player at North Carolina and sort of gave Stewart the ultimate rookie praise: he’s ahead of a usually steep learning curve.

“M.J., you know the thing that gives him an edge is he’s smart. So some guys when they come in here they’re swimming in terminology. That’s not the case; he knows what he’s doing,” Koetter said after practice. “That first play of inside-run he had a big hit on Ronald Jones, got the ball out. That was a nice play. He’s also playing two positions. Versatility is big.”

This does not surprise Joe. Back in June, the moment Koetter said fellow rookie corner Carlton Davis had “leveled off” in his progression, Joe turned attention to Stewart to be the breakthrough rookie.

Man, Joe’s fingers are crossed.

Next, Joe wants to see Stewart pluck a football out of the air. His last interception came a whopping 29 games ago against Virginia Tech in November of 2015.

24 Responses to “No Breaststroke For M.J. Stewart”

  1. Jeffbuc Says:

    That’s why underwear football means nothing. During mini camps all you heard about was Rogers. And I was expecting him to be the real deal. And was like most fans wondering if we made a mistake drafting Stewart but now it is the opposite. Maybe that is why there was a run on corners after we drafted Stewart. That might have been the guy people were hoping to fall to them with some of the bigger names still available. Anyone see Carolinas corner get smoked on a double move by there rookie receiver. But man you could see that 4.2 speed he has he caught up quick to make a play on the ball. All these young corners are going to struggle. That’s why I like the drafting of two. Bettering your odds of finding a good or great one. Hopefully they both pan out even if they are both just good I will take that. Cause they might’ve are starting two corners next year. And heargraves in the slot. Unless the lightbulb finally turns on in his head. But improved defensive line usually improves cornerback ay

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    It’s so nice to be talking about rookie development and football for a change!
    Step up kid, the table is set!

  3. Doctor Stroud Says:

    The “platoon approach” to drafting (i.e., drafting multiple players in the same position) hasn’t worked out well for the Bucs. In 2011, the organization drafted two DE (Clayborn and Bowers) in successive rounds. Then again, not may approaches to the draft have worked, so I hope that we see a big turnaround this year!

  4. 813bucboi Says:

    MJ is nice….i’ll make an impact…..


  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I have wondered why Licht chose Stewart first…..many questioned the pick….I’m hoping the scouts and Licht noticed something others didn’t.
    I still think Davis is possibly the better pick in the long run, but we have both of them…so no problem.

  6. DB55 Says:

    Jeff buc

    You’re talking about Donte Jackson CB LSU picked 2 picks after M.J. Stewart? Long lanky with 4.3 speed?

    Donte Jackson, Isaiah Oliver and Derrius Guice were all available at 53. I’ll be watching to see who has the better rookie season but I hate the fact that Oliver and Jackson both went to division rivals panthers and falcons respectively.

  7. D1 Says:


    Why wonder why?
    Jason( the person responsible for picks) Light has answered the question in detail. Apparently, He didn’t have the answer you’re looking for because, how else can you keep wondering about the answer to a question that has been answered.
    The results, albeit early, support the decision. If you think other teams valued one them higher than the other it’s not something that can be validated. The facts are that a player’s selection # represents the highest actual value for the player.
    Stewart is a more valuable player than Davis. Obviously, there’s no guarantees that this works out but it’s not relevant.

  8. Cobraboy Says:

    TBBF: the draft is a crapshoot where you play the odds: If you need one CB to make a splash, better draft three…

  9. Trench War Says:

    glad we didn’t draft all punters

  10. webster Says:

    Only armchair gms questioned the pick. Many were cool just waiting to see how it played out. Thats why you cant grade a draft for about 3 years. And you cant judge a player after 3 training camp practices and definitely not one day after he is drafted. When will buc fans learn?

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    D1 Says:
    July 30th, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Why wonder why?

    A person can wonder can’t he…..or would you prefer I be definitively negative like others suggesting other CBs should have been picked…..I’m not questioning the pick….just the order between Stewart & Davis…’s possible Carolina wanted him & Licht knew that…..We will likely never know.
    Like Trench War says…..It’s better than a couple of punters (Joe’s choice)

  12. DB55 Says:


    Not sure if you’re talking to me but 4.3 vs 4.54 at CB and he’s an LSU guy who played with Beckwith if not Kwon and Beckwith. That’s all I need to know.

    But why not gamble with the guy from North Carolina, tip off is at 1pm on sundays.

  13. Dapostman Says:

    My own personal opinion is these guys Stewart and Davis were not only picked to cover but they can tackle. Hargreaves CAN NOT tackle on the edge or on an island. I believe Licht went back in time to the Bucs D of the past when the corners put guys on the ground. Covering is important but so is tackling. Can be the difference between a 6 yard gain or a 60 yard gain.

    #Get After It!

  14. Geno Says:

    DB55 Says:
    July 30th, 2018 at 3:24 pm
    Jeff buc
    You’re talking about Donte Jackson CB LSU picked 2 picks after M.J. Stewart? Long lanky with 4.3 speed?

    Long Lanky is a poor description. He is too thin. His speed makes Donte Jackson a 1st round pick. His 7 bench presses suggests UDFA. That is probably the lowest an LSU guy has EVER had. These guys have to be able to stand up to NFL physicality.

    I am betting that both Stewart and Davis have better NFL careers than Jackson. Jackson is too thin and weak! Let’s see him cover Evans or Godwin physically. They will catch the ball and run over his weak ass like he is a college boy still playing at LSU.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    The draft seems like it was a long time ago, but the assessments of Stewart & Davis (on BleacherReport at least) seem to reflect what we’re seeing right now:

    o M.J. Stewart
    POSITIVES: One of the best press cornerbacks in the class and bangs with his punch at the line. Short but stocky and thick with the strength to redirect receivers. Physical at the line of scrimmage and also excels as a tackler in the open field. Plays with the awareness and instincts to be assignment versatile; can handle both zone and man duties. Some scouts have suggested he’ll move to safety in the NFL. Teams love his versatility.
    NEGATIVES: Lacks ideal height (5’10⅞”) to play outside cornerback and doesn’t have the speed to run well in the slot (4.54-second 40-yard dash). Short-area burst is average; not a twitchy guy and struggles some with hip tightness in transitions. Will struggle to run with top receivers. Doesn’t have the height or vertical (35 inches) to compete with taller receivers.
    OVERALL: If you want a physical, tough cornerback and are OK with a lack of height and average speed, M.J. Stewart has the goods to come in and be an early starter in sub-packages. He might never project as an outside corner, but he has a ton of upside in the slot.
    GRADE: 6.50 (Round 2-3)

    o Carlton Davis
    POSITIVES: Three-year starter who is physical at the line and when coming downhill as a tackler. Excels at the line of scrimmage where he can use his length (32 ¾”) and size (6’1″, 206 lbs) to jam. Ideal fit in a scheme like that of Jacksonville, Seattle or San Francisco. Plays the ball well in the air and gets good position on 50/50 passes to use his size and length to win. Strong enough to press receivers off their route path. Breaks on the ball fast and sees it well enough to flip the field with interceptions. Battle-tested in the SEC. NFL-ready.
    NEGATIVES: Might be too handsy and grabby in coverage; has to learn to cover hands-free. Can be stiff in transitions; when asked to flip his hips and fly he’s a little tight. Ran just a 4.53-second 40 at the combine and only jumped 34 inches in the vertical. Been banged up in college with injuries costing him time as a sophomore and junior.
    OVERALL: Carlton Davis didn’t run well enough to put himself into the conversation as a top-end first-rounder, but as a late first or early second-round pick he has the tools to become a very good starter in a scheme that’ll let him play up on the line.
    GRADE: 6.85 (Round 2)

    It might just take Davis a little while to catch on, but he seems to have the talent to get there. Interesting that BOTH Stewart AND Davis were described as not being overly fast or quick, but they’re supposedly very physical at the line. Obviously Scapegoat Smitty didn’t have any say about these two selections.

  16. Joe Says:

    Obviously Scapegoat Smitty didn’t have any say about these two selections.

    But he will have all the say for the time being as to how they are used.

  17. webster Says:


    No one particular but speed does not always equate to being a good nfl player……see ronde barber 4.6

  18. Joe Says:

    No one particular but speed does not always equate to being a good nfl player……see ronde barber 4.6

    Never has. Otherwise, every Olympic track star would have a long NFL career to look forward to.

  19. webster Says:

    @ db55

    Another thing to consider, if stewart is as smart as koetter and joe are talking about then he will play much faster than his 40 time. Its a lot of variables my man.

  20. Dave Pear Says:


    Is the “Breaststroke” the same as a “Crotch grab?”

  21. Darin Says:

    29 games ago. Wow. He better create some fumbles then. And as long as he can cover i guess the picks dont matter as much. Another 70% completion year and this thing will be ugly. I like the 2 second round picks at corner. I think these guys are gona bring the aggressiveness whether smitty wants it or not.

  22. SOEbuc Says:

    I really liked the Stewart pick a lot more than others I think after the pick and watched his film. He’s a fast banger (don’t know if that means anything in Rog’s flag football these days) and has real tight coverage skills. It looks like it could be a close match with him and VH3 for the nickel.

  23. firethecannons Says:

    Your story reminds me of Hargreaves in preseason–2 interceptions as a rook against Jax preseason then last year against Bengals in preseason but during the real games he’s lost. He was downright awful last year–embarrassing awful especially versus Arizona

  24. m0j0 Says:

    While neither Stewart or Davis may be stars, one or both could become good players and perhaps starters, and right now, with the cupboard so bare and our best corner Grimes on his victory lap, we will take all the talent we can get at the position.