Quebec's Benjamin St-Juste still ready to impress scouts in the NFL

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. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Quebec's Benjamin St-Juste doesn't just want to enter the NFL as a rookie.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound cornerback who played for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers is expected to be selected on the second day of the NFL draft, but St-Juste wants to make an immediate contribution on the team that selects him.

"I want to make an immediate impact," St. Just said in a video conference Wednesday. "It could be on defence as a cornerback or at another position where the team sees me fitting in. It could be on the special teams. Whatever it is, I want to bring something to the team and have an impact."

St-Juste will have a chance to impress scouts at a pro day in Minnesota on Thursday. The Quebec native said his only goal will be to enjoy the process and have fun.

"To be honest, I don't really have any goals," he said. I know I'm going to do well and no matter what numbers come out, I'm a very good athlete and a very good football player. I'm just going to go out there and have fun."

All �� for tomorrow’s #ProDay.#Gophers // #SkiUMah // #RTB pic.twitter.com/sQTqZDWzMS

— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) March 31, 2021

St-Juste showed a lot of versatility at the Senior Bowl in January, performing well at cornerback and safety. He was also invited to NFL physicals, but that event was held virtually, which gave his performance in Mobile, Alabama, even more weight.

"A lot of teams are interviewing me as a cornerback," he said. "Just the fact that they saw me as a safety at the Senior Bowl adds a little more value. It's good for me."

Another strong showing Thursday certainly won't hurt. Pro Football Network projected St-Juste as a third- or fourth-round pick.

St-Juste's college career began at Michigan in 2017, but he suffered a hamstring injury in 2018 and his academic status was affected. He transferred to Minnesota, playing in 13 games (nine as a starter) and finishing tied for the team lead with 10 passes defended.

St-Juste played in five of the Golden Gophers' seven games this season. He recorded 14 tackles and picked off 10 passes while earning Big Ten Conference academic honours.

After leaving Michigan with a degree in sports management, St-Juste earned his master's degree in the field at Minnesota. That's pretty impressive considering he didn't speak English until he was 17.

St-Juste's game has also attracted attention in Canada. He is ranked 11th by the Canadian Football League's Central Scouting Service.

St-Juste said that as soon as he got his hands on a football, his goal was to play in the NFL.

"I've always had that in mind," he said. "I feel like if you don't have that ultimate goal of making it to the NFL and performing at a high level, your dream will die in the process."

St-Juste models his game after several NFL cornerbacks.

"I like Jalen Ramsey (of the Los Angeles Rams). He's a big, physical cornerback like me,'' the Quebec native said. "When I was younger, I used to watch Richard Sherman a lot, a student of the sport who is very smart and has the same physique. Marlon Humphrey (of the Baltimore Ravens) is another physical cornerback. I like that aspect of his game and I try to influence my game with his."

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

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