UNC Football: Todd McShay says Patriots could draft Tar Heel in first round


ESPN’s Todd McShay thinks M.J. Stewart could be a nice fit in New England

Former North Carolina defensive back M.J. Stewart is having an impressive offseason leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft.

Stewart’s work on the Reese’s Senior Bowl practice field was heralded by numerous scouts and coaches, and he was one of nine players recognized as a top performer in the week leading up to the game.

Stewart was subsequently named the event’s top defensive back, a distinction that set him apart from other participants and could give his draft stock a boost.

Just over a week later, Stewart was invited to the NFL Draft Scouting Combine set to take place from February 27th to March 5th in Indianapolis, Indiana. There, along with former UNC linebacker Andre Smith, Stewart will participate in drills and exercises in order to showcase his abilities to NFL scouts and general managers.

And with the draft less than three months away, ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Todd McShay thinks M.J. Stewart could have a home in New England next season.

"“Given his Super Bowl controversy, it certainly appears New England will part ways with Malcolm Butler,” McShay said. “Spending an early pick on a CB makes sense, especially with Stephon Gilmore on the other side. Stewart is underrated and an experienced player, with adequate height and very good top-end speed. He’ll also support the run.”"

And the move to acquire Stewart in the draft would make sense for the Patriots, given their obvious difficulties defending against the pass.

The 6-foot, 205-pound Stewart was named first team All-ACC as a senior at North Carolina. He recorded 45 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and 12 pass breakups. Over the course of his four years in the UNC defensive backfield, Stewart record 199 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, six interceptions and 41 pass breakups.

Current NFL mock drafts project Stewart being selected in a wide variety of places and to a multitude of different teams. But we’ll have to wait until the final weekend in April to find out exactly where he ends up.