NAME: Benjamin St-Juste
WEIGHT: 202 pounds
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Benjamin St-Juste is a bit of a late bloomer. Though, the potential is certainly high for this cornerback. Growing up predominantly in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, he attended Cegep du Vieux Montreal. Since he lived in an area where French was spoken a high amount of the time, St-Juste did not learn to speak English until the age of 17. On the gridiron for his high school senior season, he recorded 30 tackles, 18 pass breakups, two interceptions and a forced fumble. 247Sports rated him as a four-star recruit, the number 38 overall cornerback in the class and the number one overall player to come out of Quebec.
Originally beginning his college football career at Michigan, St-Juste appeared in 12 games as a true freshman in 2017. Mostly, this came on special teams, as he recorded just three tackles. The team redshirted him in 2018, and eventually St-Juste decided to transfer schools.
Staying in the Big Ten, the defender made an immediate impact with Minnesota. In 2019, St-Juste started in nine games and appeared in 13 contests total. He notched 45 tackles and tied for the team lead in pass breakups (10). Afterwards, the conference recognized him as an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. The shortened 2020 season saw St-Juste appear in just five games. He registered 14 tackles and three pass breakups. For his final year, his school work allowed him to earn Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Having the ability to mix coverages and read a plethora of different routes is certainly a plus for St-Juste. The route recognition is what stood out more to me, personally. He does well to anticipate breaks at the top of route stems, fakes or counters from receivers. Moreover, St-Juste appears to study how the opponent will position their bodies for a reception very thoroughly. It was encouraging to see how often he worked to get on the inside hip of the opposition, in order to gain added leverage. The same goes for squeezing down on shorter routes. If anything, there is a worry about St-Juste going up against deeper routes. But still, the anticipation, calmness and remaining focused on his man mixes well for a player who will still need plenty of development. Those traits really jumped out at the Senior Bowl.
The most consistent thing St-Juste has shown to this point, is his ability to disrupt passes at the catch point. He has the extraordinary length to reach in at the last moment and jar the ball loose from the opponent’s grasp. Furthermore, St-Juste displays terrific extension to still cause havoc, even if his positioning and footing are not the greatest. Mainly, getting his arms in the throwing lane can distract opposing receivers. St-Juste also takes great pride in being physical at the line of scrimmage, while playing press man coverage. His hand technique and punches are quick. The defender does well with placement, in order to get into the pass catcher’s chest, as well as up high to stunt their releases at the beginning of the route.
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The only spot where I see St-Juste playing is on the outside. However, there are still many reasons as to why teams could use him in a variety of ways defensively. Obviously, he feels extremely comfortable as a press man corner. The aforementioned length and swift punches at the line of scrimmage are effective in slowing down receivers. There are also Cover 3 zone reps where he showed comfort. In those situations, St-Juste opts to faceguard and does well to read the receiver’s hands and eyes. Finally, he showed confidence when triggering downhill or laterally against shorter routes.
Teams will have to be cautious with how they handle his coverage assignments. First off, short area quickness and explosion can come and go. There are moments where St-Juste surprises opposing receivers by screaming across their face to break up a pass. On the other hand, transitioning and keeping his balance has been a work in progress. The long speed is simply not a part of this player’s game. To boot, his strides are long and choppy. This makes St-Juste difficult to trust against faster and speedier wide receivers on the outside, as a result.
Going back to the previous paragraph, there are questions of St-Juste covering deep down the field. Some of that has to do with that last negative we mentioned. However, there is not much flexibility in his longer frame. St-Juste is a bit slower when attempting to transition or change directions. Turning his hips can come way too late in coverage. Elsewhere, the cornerback can be late to gain leverage against routes, before the ball gets to his vicinity. St-Juste usually runs with higher hips as well.
St-Juste struggles mightily to break away from opposing blockers. The major issue is, how long it takes him to recognize the run is coming and how long it takes for him to try to disengage. Block deconstruction will be a major learning curve for St-Juste entering the NFL. Meanwhile, there are also questions with his tackling. The inconsistencies show up in a few different areas. This includes St-Juste’s angles taken, tackling strike zone and keeping his eyes up.
Benjamin St-Juste really began to turn heads down in Mobile, Alabama at the Senior Bowl. While there, he gave glimpses into a few aspects that could make him a possible fit with the Kansas City Chiefs. Let’s start with the man coverage traits. St-Juste’s press man coverage technique is pretty remarkable, given his limited time spent at the cornerback position. The strength and pop in his hands makes life difficult on pass catchers, and more importantly, it can catch them off guard. He may not have the best functional athleticism among the 2021 cornerback class. Nonetheless, the confidence and calmness under pressure could allow him to stick in a defense like Kansas City’s. Having the technically sound style and consistent body positioning would translate well, while more growth and development begins to progress.
Be on the lookout for our final FPC Chiefs draft prospect profile tomorrow. For all of our draft coverage on the website this week, keep it locked on to @FullPressNFL. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.
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