The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft fell almost perfectly for the Washington Commanders (or at least for me). When pick 16 arrived, the top player on my Big Board, Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez, was staring us in the face. I had no doubt the long, athletic, scheme-diverse defensive back was going to be the pick.
I was a bit upset that the top four offensive tackles where all gone by pick 14, but aside from Gonzalez, there was Will Levis still sitting in the Green Room, both top tight ends, Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison, and a few really solid corners remaining if we were able to trade back.
Make no mistake - I wanted us to draft Gonzalez here, but I would have been good if we traded back into the 20’s and recouped an additional draft pick.
Well, you could imagine my surprise (actually, with this staff, I probably shouldn’t even say that), when we made the pick of Emmanuel Forbes...
I do not hate Forbes (even at his 166 pounds), I just don't like him at 16.— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) April 27, 2023
I wasn’t initially as upset as I thought I’d be after sitting back and letting the pick sink in - much like I did last year when we traded back and selected Jahan Dotson. Surely Forbes wasn’t my top choice (I had him near the top of round two), but who am I to judge. He plays a premium position and it was one of the top needs for the Commanders. I just didn’t quite see the value at number 16.
So what are we getting in Emmanuel Forbes?
First, let’s address the negatives...and truthfully there aren’t that many. The biggest question mark about Forbes is his lack of ideal bulk. He was listed at 6’0” 180 on the Mississippi State roster, but he played much lighter than that. He absolutely shocked teams when he measured in at the combine at just under 6’1” and 166 pounds. This made me question his motives, and what his true playing weight during the season really was. This was the biggest job interview of his life, and to come in that light was a bit concerning to me. How is he going to be able to handle the rigors of the NFL at that weight?
Aside from the weight issues, Forbes tends to be a bit too aggressive at times and is susceptible to double-moves - however, this defense needs playmakers so most fans will live with this.
And now onto the Positives...
Forbes played in 35 games (33 starts) in the SEC, going against top competition each week. Although slight of frame, he plays like he’s 200 pounds, showing great ability to make plays in the run game and after the catch.
despite his (very) skinny frame. I haven't been too worried about Emmanuel Forbes' (#13) willingness to tackle. pic.twitter.com/pXsCe7sPoK— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) April 4, 2023
In coverage, Forbes is an exceptional defender in both man and zone. He uses his nearly 6’1” frame and length to get his arms into a receiver's breast-plate and disrupt the route when asked to press. His anticipating and understanding of route concepts in off-man is off-the-charts and his ball skills are the best in this class by a long-shot. He had a whopping 14 interceptions during his time as Mississippi State and returned six of those for touchdowns (you can see that 4.35 speed). As I mentioned above, he tends to jump routes a bit too much, so he’ll need to learn to be a tad more patient in the league as offenses may try to take advantage of his aggressive nature with double-moves. That being said, his eye discipline is fantastic and should lead to many turnovers during his career.
Welcome to DC Emmanuel Forbes! #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/QHmG3PDfwz— Zac (@DCzWall) April 28, 2023
My player comp for Forbes is former Redskins CB Fred Smoot. Take away the fact that they both attended Mississippi State for a minute and look at the athletic traits and ball skills. Smoot was a bit shorter at 5’11”, and a bit heavier, but both were incredibly productive college players. Both Forbes and Smoot possess great instincts and awareness and the ball skills were evident. In his two seasons at Mississippi State, Smoot recorded 10 interceptions. Although he didn’t have the return touchdowns that Forbes did, Smoot was still a playmaker in every sense of the word. Smoot had 16 interceptions during his first four years with Washington, and grabbed two more when he made his second appearance with the Redskins from 2007-2009.
If Forbes can play with the same NFL productivity as Smoot, we should all really enjoy this selection.
Despite me feeling that Forbes was a bit of a reach at 16, and really wishing we’d have traded back for an additional selection (who knows - maybe we tried and couldn’t find a partner), this pick is growing on me. For one, we needed depth in the secondary and Forbes gives us an elite playmaker at a position of need. Second, he has really nice scheme versatility, and will be able to play the style of defense Del Rio is looking for. Finally, he has some time to get into a good nutrition program and hopefully bulk himself up to the 180 mark (still a bit light for me, but it’s better than playing in the 160’s).
Welcome to D.C. Emmanuel!
Grade the Emmanuel Forbes pick in round one.
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