Ranking the Packers (No. 55): Darrell Stewart
GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 55: WR Darrell Stewart (6-0, 212, rookie, Michigan State)
Stewart is the highest-ranked undrafted free agent.
Stewart has overcome a life’s worth of adversity, including the death of his father. Following three strong seasons with the Spartans, Stewart went undrafted and the Packers signed him with a $7,000 bonus. Not long after agreeing to join Green Bay, he went to the “sand pit” – a sand volleyball court in his native Houston. With the nets taken down due to COVID-19, it became Stewart’s training center. He ran route after route in the sand that evening.
“As you’re going through this whole thing, you put it in your head: Your name didn’t get called,” Stewart told the Washington Post. “It puts this feeling in your stomach, the motivation to go another rep.”
Stewart finished his career ranked third in school history with 150 receptions and 23rd with 1,640 receiving yards. As a senior, he ranked among the Big Ten leaders with 49 receptions for 697 yards despite missing the final four regular-season games with a broken fibula. He fought his way back into the lineup for the Pinstripe Bowl, his two receptions for 3 yards meaning little in the bigger picture.
“Still being able to get out there and affect people,” he said after the game. “Not being out there physically, but mentally, just making sure the younger guys are ready to go. It was an iffy situation, but I pulled through and believed in God and just had faith.”
He finished with three consecutive seasons of 48-plus receptions and a 33-game receptions streak. Plus, he averaged 24.0 yards per kickoff return.
“I’m a relentless player, a big-play maker,” Stewart told the Houston Chronicle before the draft. “I want to make the big plays, the tough catches. I’m a dog for production. I just want to produce.”
Why he’s got a chance: About the closest thing the Packers have to a natural, proven slot receiver is Darrius Shepherd, an undrafted free agent last year. Among receivers who ran at least 200 routes from the slot last year, Stewart was tied for 21st in the nation with 2.48 yards per slot route, according to Pro Football Focus. There’s no evidence that coach Matt LaFleur covets a natural slot receiver but the guess here is he wouldn’t turn one down, either.