National Team defensive back Benjamin St. Juste of Minnesota (25), left, knocks loose a catch intended for National Team wide receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick of Louisville (13) during practice for the NCAA Senior Bowl college football game in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Canadian Benjamin St-Juste doesn;t want to ease quietly into the NFL as a rookie. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matthew Hinton

Canadian cornerback St-Juste anxious to put in work to be impact player as NFL rookie

Canadian cornerback St-Juste anxious to put in work to be impact player as NFL rookie

Canadian Benjamin St-Juste doesn’t want to ease into the NFL as a rookie.

The six-foot-three, 200-pound cornerback from the University of Minnesota is projected as a second-day selection in this year’s NFL draft, But St-Juste wants to contribute immediately to the team that selects him.

“Instant impact,” St-Juste told reporters during a videoconference Wednesday. “It could be on defence as a starting corner or at another position where they see me fitting well for their team.

“It could be on special teams. Regardless, I want to bring something to the team, have an instant impact in my rookie year. Being a leader, being a captain, performing on special teams, performing as a starter and getting rookie of the year. Just having that instant impact, that’s what I am working towards for my rookie season.”

St-Juste will have the opportunity Thursday to again impress pro scouts during Minnesota’s pro day. The lanky Canadian said his only goal will be to enjoy the process and have fun with it.

“I don’t really have any goals to be honest,” he said. “I know I’m going to test well, I know I’m going to do well and regardless of what numbers come out, I’m a great athlete and I’m a great football player.

“I’m just going to go out there and have fun and if I come out with some crazy number, then I come out with some crazy number. If not, it is what it is but I don’t put that pressure or stress (on himself) and I don’t have that expectation from the outside.”

St-Juste showed plenty of versatility at the Senior Bowl in January, performing well at both cornerback and safety. He was also invited to the NFL combine but that event was held virtually, putting more weight on St-Juste’s performance in Mobile, Ala.

“A lot of teams interview me as a corner,” he said. “But just the fact they saw me play at the Senior Bowl as a safety, they’re like, ‘Oh that adds a little bit more value to him,’

“That’s just good for me.”

Another good showing Thursday certainly wouldn’t hurt. Pro Football Network has given St-Juste a third—to-fourth round grade.

St-Juste began his college football career at Michigan, playing as a freshman in 2017 before redshirting in 2018 due to a hamstring injury that ultimately affected his scholarship status. He transferred to Minnesota in 2019, appearing in all 13 games (starting nine) and finishing tied for the team lead with 10 pass breakups.

St-Juste played in five of Minnesota’s seven games this season. He registered 14 tackles and broke up three passes while earning academic All Big-10 honours.

After leaving Michigan with a degree in sports management, St-Juste earned his master’s in the field at Minnesota — impressive, considering St-Juste wasn’t able to speak English until he was 17.

St-Juste’s play has also attracted attention in Canada. He was ranked 11th on the CFL scouting bureau’s most recent list of the top-20 prospects for this year’s draft.

St-Juste said playing in the NFL has been his goal since first picking up a football.

“I’ve always had that in the back of my mind that need to make it,” St-Juste said. “I feel like, personally for me, if you don’t have that ultimate goal of going to the NFL and really perform, I feel like your dream will die throughout the process.”

Preparing for the NFL draft is a marathon, not a sprint. The months-long process involves numerous physical tests and an abundance of interviews and maintaining an even-keel throughout is key.

“I used to be very hard on myself but then I realized it’s just a blessing to be in the position I am today,,” St-Juste said. “I just try to have fun … if you don’t have fun playing football, what are you doing?

“That’s the kind of energy I’m bringing into (Thursday). I’ve been doing it my whole life, just go have fun with it at the end of the day.”

St-Juste models his game after several NFL cornerbacks.

“I like Jalen Ramsey (L.A Rams), he’s a big, physical corner similar to me,” St-Juste said. “Growing up I looked up to Richard Sherman (veteran free agent) a lot, a student of the game, very smart, similar body shape.

“Marlon Humphrey (Baltimore Ravens), he’s another physical defensive back. I like that about his game and I try to model my game around him.”

St-Juste said while he considers himself a hard worker, he’ll have to take that up a notch in the NFL.

“I have great values, I have great work ethic, I work hard, I put in the extra time when people aren’t looking,” he said. “But a lot of players in the NFL do that.

“So I’m going to double down on that and put in even more work … using my resources and opportunities so I can separate myself from the pack of players in the NFL so I can be one of those elite players.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

NFL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

.
3-hour paid leave for Albertans to get vaccinated in the works

The UCP government intends to introduce legislation that will ensure working Albertans… Continue reading

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Several cases of COVID-19 were reported among employees of stores at Bower Place Mall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
COVID-19 cases reported at Bower Place mall stores

AHS said five complaints were investigated since March, and required changes made

Edmonton Eskimos' Tanner Green, right, knocks the ball from Calgary Stampeders' Romar Morris during first half CFL football action in Calgary in 2019. Green has been waiting for nearly 17 months to get back on the field with the Edmonton Football Team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lacombe’s Tanner Green happy to finally see a CFL return to play date

CFL announced Wednesday league will return on Aug. 5

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse (5) shoots next to Indiana Fever's Kamiah Smalls during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. Nurse isn't just one of Canada's finest female basketball players, she's becoming a popular voice of the game as well. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

The D.C. Defenders, right, line up against the Seattle Dragons for the opening kickoff of the opening football game of the XFL season, in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Despite heated social media discussion in Canada, talks between the CFL and XFL haven't addressed what rules could be implemented in a potential partnership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Stephen Whyno
CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Canada's Brianne Jenner (19) and Russia's Anna Shibanova (70) battle for position in front of Russia goaltender Alexandrova Nadezhda (31) during third period IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship preliminary round action in Plymouth, Mich., on Monday, April 3, 2017. The women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia has been cancelled a second time because of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Kryk
Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford compete in the pairs figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
“Once in a lifetime opportunity” – Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

“Once in a lifetime opportunity” - Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

A school bag and a lunch bag are seen in the schoolyard at Bancroft Elementary School as students go back to school in Montreal on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says the organization representing the province's teachers is playing politics with a proposed new kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum and isn’t sincere about a real bridge-building effort. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta teachers and education minister swap accusations of politicizing curriculum

Alberta teachers and education minister swap accusations of politicizing curriculum

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, minister of Environment and Parks after being sworn into office, in Edmonton on Tuesday April 30, 2019. Town council from the largest municipality in Nixon's constituency is concerned over the province's consultation plans for open-pit coal mining in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Council in Alberta environment minister’s town wants better coal consultation

Council in Alberta environment minister’s town wants better coal consultation

Most Read