POSITION: Running back.
MEASURABLES: 5-foot-10, 235, 4.46 in the 40 at the combine.
COLLEGE CAREER: Ranked seventh in the nation and led the conference as he set a school season-record with 1,722 yards on 280 carries (6.2 avg), including eleven touchdowns in 2007.
PROJECTED AS: A potential starting running back in the NFL. At the least, Stewart could enter the NFL as the power back in a tandem backfield.
ARE THE SAINTS INTERESTED: Saintsinsider.com learned that Stewart met with the Saints for two hours on Tuesday. He said the meeting went well, as he spent most of his time with running backs coach Aaron Kromer.
DRAFT VALUE: Despite surgery on an injured toe that will likely keep Stewart out of any team's mini-camp, he's still a first-round value and said most teams have told him the surgery won't hurt him. "They say it won't hurt my status," Stewart said. "If anything, it could help. I had an injury and got it taken care of instead of letting it go and letting it get worse. That would have hindered me from excelling the way that I want to at training camp."
SCOUT.COM'S TOM MARINO'S ANALYSIS: Big, productive, between the tackles runner who broke secured tackles and finished his runs. Liked his ability to get up in the hole, bounce it outside or see the backfield cutbacks. Appeared a little stiff and didn't run with the type of speed he showed at the scouting combine. Runs hard. Has good pad level and finishes his runs consistently. An 80-20 catcher on flat, circle, screen and arrow routes. Late first round or top of the second round potential. (Marino also said he considers Stewart the most complete back in the draft).
WHAT OTHER SERVICES ARE SAYING:
"An excellent Combine performance grabbed the attention of teams and fans alike: 4.46 40, 1.46 10 yd split, 28 reps, 36.5-inch vertical, and 10-feet, 80-inch broad at 235 pounds. However, after the workout Stewart had surgery to repair a toe injury that had bothered him since November. His Combine workout looked even better after the injury was revealed, and now he won' t be bothered by it throughout his rookie year." — NFLDraftscout.com
"Stewart, a junior, made a smart decision to declare for the '08 draft. After struggling with injuries in his first two seasons at Oregon, he had a huge season; if he returned for senior year, he'd run the risk of his draft stock plummeting if he got hurt again. We always are wary of big backs who do not run aggressively and lack explosiveness, but there is a place in the NFL for them. Stewart also could help as a receiver out of the backfield and kickoff returner." — Sportingnews.com War Room.
MATTHEW POSTINS' BOTTOM LINE: This meeting makes the Deuce McAllister situation all the more intriguing. Scout.com's top reporter, Adam Caplan, remarked to me after learning about the meeting that this could mean McAllister is out the door. We'll see next week. If he is, Stewart would be a very capable replacement and a solid complement to Reggie Bush. The Saints would need that tough, between-the-tackles runner, and that's Stewart's reputation. The fact that he can catch passes and return kickoffs is a bonus that most teams will like. He seems to have dodged any backlash from his toe injury and surgery to remain a first-round pick. However, I don't believe the Saints will reach to take Stewart with their No. 10 overall pick, considering their defensive needs. Stewart would represent a great selection for the Saints if he were to slide into the second round.
You can read more of Matthew Postins' coverage of the New Orleans Saints at saintsinsider.com.