What impact will Benjamin St-Juste have as a rookie? – NBC4 Washington

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WFT burning questions: what impact will St-Juste have? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

* With training camp just around the corner, Ethan Gifts of NBC Sports Washington delves into a burning question for every group of positions on Washington’s roster. Next step: cornerback.

What impact will cornerback Benjamin St-Juste have as a rookie?

On day two of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Washington football team had a pair of third-round picks just eight selections apart. The latter pick was used on off North Carolina Dyami Brown, whose skill and speed immediately excited Washington fans.

While Brown showed flashes throughout the minicamp, it was Washington’s other third-round pick that really turned heads. It would be cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, whose combination of height (6-3, 200lbs) and speed could see him playing plenty of snaps for Washington.

Since becoming head coach, Ron Rivera has preached the versatility of positions in Washington. When Burgundy and Gold grabbed St-Juste, many thought of his ability to play several high school positions awarded to this selection. While it may have been the case, St-Juste quickly showed during the minicamp that he can be a hard-hitting player in Washington’s defense from the start, it wasn’t just his versatility that made him the 74th. choice in total.

During a specific training session, St-Juste totaled at least four breakage passes and dropped one that would have been a six-pick. He was the star of the minicamp that day.

“He has great vision and understands how to play with vision,” Rivera said in June. “There is no trigger in his game. When the ball clicks, he’s in position, he has to phase. When he has to burst, he knows when to burst. Another thing is that he has natural abilities which are created due to his physical stature. He has long legs, he has long arms, he has good strength and good core strength. It is a pretty good package in terms of nice long wedge skinny. “

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While St-Juste impressed this offseason, it is worth pointing out that all of these practices were in t-shirts and shorts. A lot can change when the electrodes light up. Yet, based on St-Juste’s performance in the offseason, it’s worth asking what impact can he have as a rookie?

At the cornerback position, Washington’s starting duo is roughly made up of Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III. Each cornerback was Washington’s biggest offseason signing of the 2020 and 2021 free agent periods, respectively, and their play earned them the rights to that role.

However, if St-Juste continues to perform at an elite level, his presence could allow Jack Del Rio to get creative with Fuller as well and get all three defensive backs on the field at the same time.

While Jackson is only an outside cornerback, Fuller can play both cornerback positions – he specifically excels in the lunge – and also a little bit of security. During his two seasons with the Chiefs, Fuller played all four high school positions. Although the outside cornerback is his natural position, he can really play all over the court.

However, if St-Juste shows up to training camp, it won’t be as easy as moving him to a starting cornerback role and getting Fuller to safety. Between Kamren Curl, Bobby McCain and Landon Collins (whenever he comes back healthy), Washington has three capable safeties, with Curl and McCain able to play both positions.

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With the NFL continuing to be an increasingly satisfied league year over year, defenses are also playing in fewer and fewer base packages. This should benefit a team like Washington, as their defensive back room is much deeper than their linebacker body.

So while St-Juste probably won’t be a starter right away in basic defense, he should have the opportunity to compete for big snaps in nickel and dime packages. The slot machine cornerback position is up for grabs – Jimmy Moreland is likely the favorite to enter camp – but Fuller and St-Juste could also line up.

What St-Juste has to its advantage – something last year’s rookies didn’t have – is a full offseason, normal training camp and three preseason games. The third-round pick will have ample opportunity to show what he can do before the team begins its regular season on September 12 against the Chargers.

With Jackson and Fuller, as well as the Washington Multi-Purpose Security Room, St-Juste might not be a starter immediately. But, if St-Juste continues to build on his solid minicamp, Del Rio and his staff will have a hard time keeping him off the field.

His size gives him natural abilities that most Washington cornerbacks lack, while his 4.5 speed also keeps him with most defenders. Don’t be surprised if at the end of the season, St-Juste has a big role in Washington’s defense.

“He’s the kind of guy who keeps growing and playing,” Rivera said in June. “He showed us that he has the ability to understand and that he knows what his techniques are and that he plays with them. It’s one of the perks of having a guy who is willing to play small. things, who’s willing to work hard and play hard. He’s going to put himself in a position to play games. “

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