Previously in this series I took a look at Tulane defensive lineman Cam Sample wondering how he might fit in with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today, we’re staying on defense, but shifting to the secondary as we hone in on Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back, Benjamin St-Juste.
BENJAMIN ST-JUSTE COLLEGIATE CAREER
The 6’3 defensive back joined Michigan’s football program after being a four-star recruit coming out of high school in Montreal. Ranked as the top player in Quebec, St-Juste played in twelve games, but transferred after getting mostly special teams opportunities and redshirting his 2018 season.
Starting nine game with his new team in 2019, he made an immediate impact tying as the top defender on Minnesota’s roster with ten passes defensed that year.
St-Juste’s 2020 season was different, like anyone elses. Still, he played in five games and had three passes defensed in those five.
His collegiate career was good enough to catch the eye of Jim Nagy and the people at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and St-Juste accepted the invitation and opportunity to work with NFL coaches, in Mobile.
While there, the long defender showed his expected physicality and determination to win every rep. He also showed the ability to play the ball in the air, and made more than one highlight worthy play in one-on-one drills designed to give the offensive player an advantage.
Now, he awaits the NFL Draft, to find out when he’ll be selected, and where he’ll start his professional career.
If not me, then who? #justscratchingthesurface pic.twitter.com/DNFFU0s10M— Benjamin St-Juste (@Benj_Juice) January 19, 2021
PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS
At his Pro Day on April 1st, St-Juste did even more to help his already rising draft stock. He didn’t measure in at 6’3 like we expected, he came in at 6’3 1/4. That’s a good thing.
Weighing in at 202 pounds he also looks the part of a long, physical corner who really piqued the interest of NFL talent evaluators with his 3.96 short shuttle and 4.51 forty time.
The short shuttle would have been the best time at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, and the forty time is faster than Ohio State’s Damon Arnette ran last year. Arnette was drafted nineteenth overall, and is three inches shorter.
So you could say it was a good day for St-Juste.
WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021
Depth. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already look set in their defensive backs room with Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Jamel Dean leading the way in the cornerbacks group.
Behind them though, you have some lesser established players who have flashed, but shouldn’t be considered guys who have a chokehold on their roster positioning at the moment.
St-Juste also brings versatility having experience in the nickel back role, although he’s certainly better suited to playing outside.
In some formations, and with some tutelage, you could even see him lining up in a free-safety position if the right match-up calls for it.
Versatility is huge in this modern NFL where you might play a pocket passer like Matt Ryan one week followed by a do-everything type with wheels like Patrick Mahomes the next. This is what St-Juste brings to the table.
In a dream scenario the three-headed Buccaneers group of cornerbacks will turn into NFL stars. Problem with dreams is, they eventually end and you return to the real world.
The real world means at least one of the three may have already peaked, find injury problems as their career progresses, or will regress instead of progress. In the event all three turn into stars, the Bucs will be forced to pick and choose who they let walk, and who they pay top market value to keep.
Yeah, that’s a downer. I know.
For now, we don’t have to worry about that. What St-Juste presents in a three-year projection is the potential to find an in-house replacement for one of those guys if one of the above mentioned fates happens upon them.
As much as we may not want to see that future. It’s something the team needs to prepare for.
In Chad Reuter’s latest mock draft, St-Juste heads to the San Francisco 49ers with the 102nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. A third round projection isn’t bad, but I think it’s a little low, personally.
Give Reuter a chance to adjust after the pro day circuit winds down, and I think we’ll see this Minnesota prospect taken before pick ninety.
In the same mock draft, the Buccaneers take a cornerback, but they take Stanford defensive back Paulson Adebo with the 95th overall selection. Agree to disagree, Chad.
ON THE CLOCK...
This is where Bucs Nation comes in. Taking a look at the roster, the fit, and the projections. Where do you value Minnesota defensive back, Benjamin St-Juste?
For Benjamin St-Juste, the Buccaneers should...
This poll is closed
...draft him at current projection (Late Day 2)
...draft him early (Middle of Day 2)
...take a better player, earlier in the draft
...draft this position, but later than he is projected
...not draft this position group at all