Could Benjamin St-Juste enter superstar status for the Commanders in 2023?
By Dean Jones
Could talented cornerback Benjamin St-Juste enter superstar status for the Washington Commanders entering Year 3 of his professional career in 2023?
Much has been made about the Washington Commanders spending their first two selections during the 2023 NFL Draft on defensive backs. But that does nothing to detract from the confidence in Benjamin St-Juste heading into next season.
The third-year cornerback made great strides last time around with additional responsibilities. This could be a sign of better things to come when competitive action begins once again.
St-Juste looked an assured presence in coverage more often than not last season. He has the size and length to operate on the outside or as a slot cornerback, but preference might be for the former looking at Washington's current options.
Commanders CB Benjamin St-Juste has high goals for 2023
Having extra competition in the secondary can only be a good thing. St-Juste has set himself some high, All-Pro targets for the upcoming campaign according to team employee Julie Donaldson, but the 2021 third-round selection is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Commanders' defense reach new heights.
"I think the greatest thing you can have is availability and also versatility. If I know what I'm doing, know my assignment as a nickel, then I can go inside and play, but if I don't know that, then I'm stuck on the bench because they're gonna put somebody else there that knows what they're doing. I think I found my potential in terms of [being] a CB1, being matched up against a star receiver and performing well and stepping up in big moments. That was kind of like a little coming out moment for me. "- Benjamin St-Juste via Commanders.com
Having this confidence is sure to stand St-Juste in tremendous stead. The one-time Minnesota star gave up just 47.7 percent of targets and an 87.1 passer rating when targeted in 2022, so the upward trajectory is there for all to see.
Becoming an All-Pro might be a stretch too far for St-Juste. But if the defensive back can become a dependable presence on the outside and Emmanuel Forbes Jr. also lives up to his end of the bargain, the Commanders might just have a dynamic cornerback tandem on their hands at long last.
There is some work ahead for St-Juste to meet increased expectations. The player must become more impactful against the run and anticipate short-to-intermediate routes more effectively to take that next step into the borderline elite category.
If St-Juste can improve, Forbes and Quan Martin hit the ground running, and Cameron Dantzler Sr. adjusts to different surroundings, the Commanders should be much improved in terms of pass defense. One cannot dismiss the possibility of Kendall Fuller also sticking around despite some projecting the veteran to be a salary-cap casualty when the time comes.
Year 3 is when we typically get a broader perspective about what players can become - especially on defense. The adjustment period is over and they are clued up with the NFL's demands, so it'll be interesting to see what St-Juste's long-term prospects look like once the upcoming campaign concludes.
St-Juste is determined to prove his worth as an integral part of Wasington's plans. While the staffing structure might change if things don't go well for Ron Rivera under the new ownership's watch, the cornerback can leave no doubt as to his own importance by showing out from a starting berth and staying clear of injuries.
Should St-Juste manage this feat, which is entirely possible, superstardom beckons.