5 position battles to watch at Commanders training camp in 2023

Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett
Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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What are the most intriguing position battles to monitor closely this year at Washington Commanders training camp?

With NFL training camps set to get underway in just a few weeks, the excitement for a new season is beginning to build. The optimism around the Washington Commanders has also started to grow, due in large part to the impending sale of the franchise, which has many loyal fans itching to celebrate a new era.

This offseason has also brought a multitude of changes to the Commanders' roster. Veterans were brought in at key positions as well as a much-needed injection of young talent across the depth chart through this year's NFL Draft.

With a number of new faces looking to secure starting roles, today we take a look at five critical position battles to watch once training camp gets underway for Washington in 2023.

Commanders starting CBs

Veteran cover man Kendall Fuller returns as the Washington Commanders' likely CB1 to start 2023. The one-time Super Bowl champion enters his eighth NFL campaign and has been a mainstay in the secondary over the last three seasons, starting 47 games and racking up eight interceptions over that span.

Fuller is a versatile and dependable corner who can play outside or inside and is considered one of Washington’s leaders on defense. While he certainly has his limitations, the former Virginia Tech star has been one of the few consistent producers for a talented Commanders defense that has generally underwhelmed in recent years.

While Fuller likely has one of Washington's cornerback positions locked up, who will get the starting nod opposite him is very much up for debate.

Benjamin St-Juste has been Washington’s starter opposite Fuller over much of the last two seasons. The 6-foot-3 defensive back is a physical specimen, using his strength and length to consistently smother smaller, quicker receivers.

The biggest knock on the third-year pro is less about production and more about availability. St-Juste has dealt with a myriad of injury issues in each of his first two seasons, missing 13 total games with concussion and ankle problems while finishing both seasons on injured/reserve.

Likely due to concerns about St-Juste’s injury history, the Commanders used their first-round pick in this year's NFL draft to select cornerback Emmanuel Forbes from Mississippi State.

As a junior last season, Forbes was a second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection after recording 46 tackles, 10 pass breakups, 16 passes defended, and a blocked kick in 12 starts for the Bulldogs defense.

The slender ball-hawk was tied for third in the entire country with six interceptions in 2022, returning three for scores and setting an all-time FBS record after totaling six interception return touchdowns over his illustrious collegiate career.

Weighing in at right around 170 pounds, Forbes’ slight frame is virtually the only negative in his pre-draft profile. Something that is easily improved upon with an NFL training staff.

Despite his spindly stature, Forbes never missed a college game in the uber-competitive SEC and is a more than willing tackler, with his fluidity and stickiness in coverage allowing him to dominate in the best conference in college football.

As a first-round pick, expectations will be sky-high for the rookie in 2023. While St-Juste certainly has the leg up in experience, Forbes’ upside is undeniable and it will be near impossible to keep the first-year playmaker off the field for a Commanders’ defense desperate for turnovers.

I fully expect Forbes to win the starting job opposite Fuller in 2023, with St-Juste battling rookie second-round pick Quan Martin for snaps in the slot.