The Washington Commanders' decision to select Emmanuel Forbes at No. 16 overall drew comparisons to one of the biggest draft mistakes in recent memory.
While the selection of Emmanuel Forbes at No. 16 overall came as something of a surprise, reading the tea leaves shortly before the 2023 NFL Draft indicated it was a distinct possibility. The cornerback generated some significant momentum over the final 48 hours, with many respected reporters and analysts projecting this would be the route Ron Rivera goes down.
This proved to be the case. Forbes' arrival provides the Commanders with a legitimate ballhawk in their secondary - someone that could eventually become the true shutdown presence Jack Del Rio's defense has sorely lacked.
There are some concerns about Forbes despite his exceptional instincts, athletic profile, and elite-level speed. These center around his weight and whether he can hold up against more physically-imposing pass-catchers at the next level.
Did the Commanders make a mistake with Emmanuel Forbes?
Confidence is high within the Commanders that this won't become a problem. Forbes will get his weight up throughout the offseason and in the coming years, but the pick wasn't universally well-received depending on which article you come across.
One example came from Mike Kashuba of Last Word on Sports, who listed the Commanders taking Forbes as one of the five worst picks of the 2023 draft. Not because of the prospect's talent - which is evident - but rather who was available at the time.
"This is less about Forbes as a player, and more about who was on the board at the time of selection. Christian Gonzalez going one pick after could give flashbacks to when Jalen Reagor went one pick ahead of Justin Jefferson. Gonzalez is an athletic freak with some serious competitive drive. Forbes weighs the same as a white tailed deer (166 pounds). Against more physical offenses, Forbes can be completely game-planned out of the game. This pick is a head-scratcher at best."- Mike Kashuba, Last Word on Sports
While these points could be valid, comparing this to one of the biggest draft errors in NFL history is wild before either Forbes or Gonzalez have played a competitive down. Even if the former Oregon star does become the better player, Washington's pick is unlikely to spiral into Reagor's mediocrity based on his outstanding skill set.
Nobody has a crystal ball, unfortunately. The Commanders obviously saw something in Forbes that they didn't in Gonzalez, who was snapped up by the New England Patriots one pick later amid jubilant scenes within their war room.
Rivera is also known for sticking to his guns rather than changing his approach on the fly. It's an ethos that's been his undoing on occasion, but this was obviously the consensus agreement within the building before they went on the clock.
Judging players before their first NFL practice is one of the worst parts of post-draft analysis. It might not happen right away for Forbes or any incoming college recruit, but first-round selections get a three-year window to prove themselves unless it becomes clear from early on they aren't going to cut it.
Forbes has the talent to become highly productive. This is also a good set-up for the player to come in and make a difference given the overall strength of Washington's defense led by their superb front.
He might always be tied to Gonzalez by those in the media. But that will be of little concern to Forbes - a highly motivated player eager to leave his mark at the next level.