Canadian defensive back Benjamin St-Juste has sought advice from a special former teammate ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
“I lean on my teammates. I have a lot of former teammates that are in the NFL,” said St-Juste. “At the beginning of the process, I reached out to Antoine Winfield Jr. a couple times — training, questioning, how he did it, and how to be professional during those interviews.”
Winfield Jr. was a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 following a standout career with the Golden Gophers. The son of three-time Pro Bowl selection Antoine Winfield Sr. won a Super Bowl in his rookie season after recording 94 total tackles, six knockdowns, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one interception as a full-time starter.
St-Juste spoke with all 32 NFL teams at the Senior Bowl, proof that he’s drawn a high level of interest. He also met with the Buccaneers twice at the event, which means there’s a chance he and Winfield Jr. could be teammates once again in 2021.
“There are specific teams in the NFL that look for taller corners like me for their schemes. With my versatility being able to play multiple positions, that helps me,” said St-Juste.
The six-foot-three, 205-pound defender has played cornerback at the University of Minnesota but has the potential to also play safety in the NFL. He got the opportunity to slot in at safety at the Senior Bowl, which St-Juste enjoyed.
“It was good to showcase my versatility. I felt comfortable playing there. A lot of the teams interviewed me as a corner, but just the fact that they saw me play at the Senior Bowl as a safety, they’re like, ‘Oh, that adds a little bit more value to him.'”
NFL scouts got a chance to see St-Juste up close on April 1 when he performed at the University of Minnesota’s pro day. He ran a 4.51 forty-yard dash, which is strong for a player of his size.
St-Juste shared the stage on Thursday with Rashod Bateman, a potential first-round pick in this year’s NFL draft. Bateman was named First-Team All-Big Ten in 2019 when he made 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns in 13 games.
Playing opposite such a remarkable talent helped prepare St-Juste for the rigors of the NFL draft process.
“He’s wide receiver No. 1 and I’m [defensive back] No. 1, so we start off practice — it could be one-on-ones, the Oklahoma drill, scrimmage or whatever. We go at it because we know that iron sharpens iron. He’s good, I’m good and we’re going to get better going at each other,” said St-Juste.
Though he started playing hockey at the age of five, reaching the NFL has been St-Juste’s goal since he started playing football at nine.
“I feel like your dream will kind of die throughout the process if you don’t put in the work and you don’t have the motivation to reach the ultimate goal of making it to the NFL,” said St-Juste. “I always had that in the back of my mind, ‘I need to make it.'”