Since the formation of the NFL, 107 players of Canadian nationality have forged a career in the league. From Montreal, via Michigan, can Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St-Juste become the latest on the list as he prepares for the 2021 NFL Draft?
Benjamin St-Juste NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Minnesota
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’3 3/8″
- Weight: 200 pounds
- Wingspan: 80 1/4″
- Arms: 32″
- Hands: 9 1/4″
Making it to the NFL is a massive achievement for any college football player. When your journey starts as a Canadian high school player — like Benjamin St-Juste — that path to the NFL Draft is even harder, even longer.
The Minnesota cornerback was a standout player at Cégep Du Vieux High School in Montreal. Despite going 5-4 in his two playing seasons, he demonstrated the play-making ability that would ordinarily have college football programs beating a path to the family doorstep. After a quiet junior year, St-Juste exploded as a senior. He recorded 30 tackles, 9 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 18 pass breakups.
However, the lack of exposure meant that the road was longer, literally. He made multiple trips to college camps in the USA, racking up thousands of miles to make his name known. In early 2017, he traveled nearly 3,000 miles to Oregon for Nike’s The Opening, demonstrating a determination and commitment to succeed.
It was on one of these trips that he would secure his opening in college football. After attending a camp at the University of Michigan, he held a scholarship offer from the Wolverines. Despite being a Division I All-Star Cornerback, and the number one ranked player in Canada, only Michigan and Virginia Tech made offers to the four-star recruit out of Montreal.
As Michigan lost four defensive backs to the 2017 NFL Draft, Benjamin St-Juste had the opportunity to see the field as a freshman in 2017. He forged a role early as a special teams contributor. Additionally, the lanky cornerback added 3 tackles in three games, with his first collegiate tackle coming against SEC powerhouse Florida.
The road became a little harder, a little longer, in 2018. He missed his entire sophomore season with a hamstring injury. However, the injury became the subject of great mystery and dispute as he was absent from spring training with the Wolverines. The program claimed that he was going to medically retire. St-Juste has always maintained that decision wasn’t something he had control of. Meanwhile, he entered the transfer portal.
He didn’t remain there for long. Almost immediately as he’d tweeted that he had graduated and was transferring, he got a notification in his direct messages. The Minnesota Golden Gophers wasted zero time in reaching out to the promising young cornerback. Within two weeks, he was on campus and ready to go for the 2019 college football season.
After a year away from the field, the now Minnesota cornerback made his Gophers’ debut against Fresno State
Showcasing his ability to disrupt in the passing game, he made his first career pass breakup one week later. That Purdue game was the first of four where he had multiple pass breakups. By the end of the year, he tied for the team lead with 10 breakups, good enough for third in the Big Ten conference.
Due to the disruption of the 2020 college football season, he played in just five games in 2020. Finishing his college career with a pass breakup against Wisconsin, Benjamin St-Juste declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. His performances had caught the eyes of the team at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and he accepted his invite to attend.
During the week in Mobile, Alabama, he elevated his NFL Draft stock with a string of impressive performances in practice. Additionally, he made several plays in the game itself, leading the National team in pass breakups. Furthermore, he reportedly held positive interviews with several teams including the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Analyzing Benjamin St-Juste’s NFL Draft Profile
The most glaring attribute when evaluating Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St-Juste as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect is his size. Tall at 6’3″, he looks incredibly long and lanky, although he weighs in at 200 pounds. The Senior Bowl confirmed what had been apparent on tape, he is extremely long. Only Georgia cornerback DJ Daniel had a longer wingspan than St-Juste, measuring in with over 80″ wingspan and 32″ arms.
St-Juste puts this to good use in two ways on the field. Firstly, at the line of scrimmage, he uses his length to keep opposition wide receivers at bay in press coverage. There are good examples of him using his long arms to jab the receiver and disrupt his route.
Additionally, he puts his length to good use in coverage. He shows good ability to contest at the catch point although he wasn’t tasked with going up and getting the ball a huge amount in the games studied. The best use of his length is in sticking his arm out to make a play on the ball. This is evidenced by a good number of pass breakups without a career interception.
Throughout his career and particularly at the Senior Bowl, he demonstrates that he can be sticky in coverage. He has loose hips and also exhibits good short-area speed to rapidly close on the intended target. This combination allows him to recover well if required.
What are some potential concerns with Benjamin St-Juste?
Like all prospects at the 2021 NFL Draft, there are areas for improvement and potential concerns and Benjamin St-Juste is no different. Teams will no doubt want to do their due diligence around his 2018 injury, especially given the disputed nature of his departure from Michigan.
Despite possessing good short-area speed and explosion, he lacks elite long speed. This will be particularly concerning given the nature of the NFL as speedy wide receivers become more prominent.
A perceived lack of college production may also have an impact. However, I feel like that could easily be overcome by examining how he impacts the game on tape. Will only playing one full season have a similar impact on his stock?
Benjamin St-Juste’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Minnesota’s Benjamin St-Juste offers a versatile cornerback option in the 2021 NFL Draft. He has experience of playing man coverage — both press and off — as well as demonstrating zone coverage ability. His size and length lead us to believe he will play outside corner in the NFL. There are multiple teams with cornerback needs this year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers have already been mentioned earlier, but also teams like the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots are also potential suitors.
In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline lists Benjamin St-Juste as his 100th overall prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. He also gives the Minnesota Golden Gopher a third-round grade as his 11th cornerback in the class.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.