Stanley Jean-Baptiste has been a player that has just gotten better and better in his time for Nebraska. After going to high school in Miami, he went to a prep school for a year at Fort Collins Community College in Kansas where he redshirted before attending Nebraska. Jean-Baptiste came out of high school as a wide receiver and safety before making the move to cornerback partway into his sophomore season with the Cornhuskers. After being a role player initially, he worked his way into the starting lineup for 5 games as a junior and never looked back, having an outstanding senior year.
Jean-Baptiste’s physical size and athleticism will immediately stand out when teams evaluate him. He has length, but he has terrific quickness, hips and body control that have allowed him to be an impressive cover corner, but he really excels in press and can make a good number of plays on the football. There have been a lot of flashes as a run defender with a good amount of potential, but he needs to be more consistent in that area. He will be 24 at the time of the draft but that should a minor blip for teams as he looks ready contribute immediately and may only get better as he gets more experience at the position. Jean-Baptiste projects as a top 50 pick and for teams that love his fit, he could end up sneaking into the back of the first round.
Vitals & Build
Jean-Baptiste is listed at 6’3” 220lbs with a long, lean build. He has impressive hips, feet and body control for the position with quickness and good long speed. Jean-Baptiste has solid strength but does not always use it. He can continue getting stronger but for the most part it is just refining what he already as he already possesses an NFL body.
Jean-Baptiste is an inconsistent tackler. When he wants to, he can line a guy up, wrap up and drive through with some solid pop and a little nastiness behind it. This does not happen as often as it should and there are times when he is reduced to lunging, trying to trip a ball carrier up, or stopping his feet and essentially bending over with bad form. The ability is clearly there, but he just needs to basically want to do it every time as his size and length make him an extremely versatile player if he owns that part of the game.
This, again, comes down to effort with Jean-Baptiste. When he wants to go up and fill a running lane, he can make an impact with the ball carrier and drive them to the ground. With his strength and length, he can be a real weapon on the sideline as a strong side side corner, but it just comes down to how bad he wants it.
Jean-Baptiste has shown at times, he can beat a block and get to the ball carrier quickly and effectively, but there are far too many examples where he gets hung up on blocks too long. He needs to work at using those long arms to keep opponents out of his body better and taking on and shedding blocks more quickly to allow himself to get in and disrupt running plays more effectively.
If he can add more strength in his upper body, he can do more in terms of just pushing the opponent into the play and reducing the amount of running lanes they have. With all of that said, he is not afraid to hold the edge and give teammates some predictable paths to go, but has the potential to be a real weapon in this area of the game. Some of it could improve with more strength, technique and experience, but some of it is just a matter of want to and will.
Jean-Baptiste really demonstrates a ton of ability and potential when it comes to playing as a press corner on the outside. He has long arms and does a good job of staying balanced for the most part while jamming the opponent. Occasionally, he will get caught lunging, but it is more of an occasional miss rather than a habitual issue. Combining that with great hips, feet and long speed, he has the ability to win at multiple points in the play. Jean-Baptiste can win with the initial jam, can run with the opponent in stride and if he does make a mistake, he has the speed to close the distance and the ability to make plays on the football. There have been situations where he was beaten badly, caught up enough to use his length to knock down the pass.
Jean-Baptiste has the ability to mirror routes well and will occasionally run them better than the receiver does, allowing him to get to plays and get his hands on the football. He is aggressive and will get caught undercutting routes or biting on a double move at times. With his height, playing a trail concept makes it a tough window for a quarterback to throw and hit, getting the pass high enough where it goes over him, but still on target to the receiver. Even at times when Jean-Baptiste gives up catches to receivers, the plays are often contested and he really makes them earn it. Along with that, he is able to make a number of plays on the football, knocking them down with the potential to cause turnovers. He needs to work on tracking the football when his back is to the football.
Jean-Baptiste also has experience playing off man with the ability to close down on opponents. This appears to be used more of a changeup option as he really is used far more often in press man and seems more comfortable in that capacity. There are times when they show press and play more of a straight man coverage. Jean-Baptiste has displayed a pretty good backpedal. He is light on his feet and appears balanced as he works backward and with his ability to change directions, he looks comfortable.
From a physical standpoint, Jean-Baptiste certainly appears to be equipped to play in zone. He is comfortable playing with his eyes on the quarterback, has the ability to cover ground and his overall length would make him have the potential to be a nice contributor in that capacity. There just does not appear to be much evidence he has done it much. The Cornhuskers seem to use him exclusively in man coverage and it is difficult to blame them with what he can do.
Jean-Baptiste has shown he has decent ball skills. He has a good sense of timing when he can reach out and knock the ball down but when he can get his hands on the football and make the catch, he has shown he can do the job. And as a former wide receiver, he better be able to catch the football. Jean-Baptiste reacts well to the football when he turns around and has to make a quick diagnosis where it is going with the ability to intercept it.
When he does get the ball in his hands, he is definitely a threat to get yardage and potentially score. His ability to break on the ball and undercut passes make him a threat to where he can catch the pass and just keep running. He is not lacking confidence, is used to having the ball in his hands and can make a big play that much bigger.
Blitzing off the Edge
Jean-Baptiste has been used to blitz off of the edge. His acceleration and length make him a viable option because he can break down and make tackles against the run, but if he is unable to make it to the quarterback, he can potentially knock down the pass.
The best system fit for Jean-Baptiste is a press man system. He has the ideal skill set for it and just needs to keep polishing what he already does well. Teams like Jacksonville, Seattle, Cleveland and Pittsburgh could be huge fans of his length, ability to jam, recover and make plays on the football. If he can make the adjustments needed to be a consistent run defender, he could be a player who steps in and mans the strong side corner for quite a while.
Although it is unlikely that he would last long enough for a team to go this route, Jean-Baptiste could also be looked as a safety. In that scenario, he would be a great fit in a team that likes to use safeties in man coverage. The New Orleans Saints are a team that likes to do it and Jean-Baptiste could be a nice fit there, playing over the top, coming down and making plays on the football but with the ability to man up opponents as well.
Jean-Baptiste’s game is similar to that of Sean Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs. Coming out of Utah, he had the same kind of impressive length for the position that Jean-Baptiste has with the ability to make plays on the football. When Smith was drafted in the second round by the Miami Dolphins in 2009, the thought process was he would be a corner until he could not and in that case, he would be moved to safety. Jean-Baptiste would likely be drafted in the same mindset and Smith has stayed at corner and thrived from that spot.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste is still relatively new to the position, but he shows so much natural ability and acumen, appearing to soak up coaching. He is just put on a guy and can work to shut that player down, having the ability to punish teams that try to test him. Jean-Baptiste needs to get more consistent as a run defender but shows a great deal of ability, but has the potential to be an asset in that area as well as being a terrific cover corner. He should rate highly on boards of teams that want a long, press corner and projects as a top 50 pick that could sneak into the first round that may only get better with experience.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com