Emmanuel Forbes represents Commanders' biggest 2024 conundrum

All hope is not lost with Emmanuel Forbes.
Emmanuel Forbes
Emmanuel Forbes / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Emmanuel Forbes' rookie struggles were well documented. The Washington Commanders tasked the cornerback with responsibilities he wasn't ready for in 2023 as Ron Rivera tried to justify the selection over Christian Gonzalez. He paid a heavy price.

Forbes looked overwhelmed and outmatched physically. The No. 16 overall selection was bullied by the likes of D.J. Moore and A.J. Brown. Rivera eventually sent him to the bench, which isn't what the coach had in mind when he gambled heavily on the ballhawk with what turned out to be his final first-round pick at the helm.

This was a body blow for Rivera and another wayward pick for his collection. With a new regime coming into the Commanders, Forbes must impress a fresh set of eyes in pursuit of cementing his status as an integral part of the team's long-term plans.

Easier said than done. However, he's in better hands this time around.

Commanders' new regime must maximize Emmanuel Forbes' skill set in 2024

Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr. have proven credentials with defensive back development. They've helped Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland earn All-Pro honors in recent seasons. That might be unrealistic for Forbes right now, but it would be a shock if improvements didn't arrive under their expert tutelage.

David Harrison from Fan Nation explored this topic in greater detail. The writer believes Quinn and Whitt can find a way to maximize Forbes' skill set and bring back some much-needed confidence. He also preached patience regarding the Mississippi State product after he was mismanaged during a turbulent first year in a professional environment.

"The size thing is never going to go away and even if [Emmanuel] Forbes dedicates the entirety of his professional career to bulking as much as he can he'll never be a big, or even average sized, corner. But how he uses the skills he has can be improved. By him, and by the coaching staff responsible for putting him in position to weaponize the skills he does have. Because when you look back there's no doubt Forbes has great instincts, a knack for finding the ball, and hands better than most not playing receiver. A lot of those things can falter when confidence is shaken and comfort is disregarded for a coach's desire to be right. And perhaps its fair to give this new staff a year, and the player a couple, to figure it all out."

David Harrison, Fan Nation

The Commanders didn't do much to strengthen their outside cornerback options this offseason despite losing Kendall Fuller to the Miami Dolphins in free agency. Michael Davis looks like the only one capable of manning starting reps, which is no guarantee given his inconsistencies with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2023. This provides a window of opportunity for Forbes to re-establish himself within schematic concepts more suited to his athletic attributes.

It could go either way, in all honesty. Quinn and Whitt typically like their cornerbacks to be physical and capable of thriving in press coverage situations. They get left on an island a lot, which is something Forbes had difficulty with last season. Therefore, the staff must find ways to get him involved and rely on his natural ability to create chances into turnovers.

Forbes should be highly motivated to silence his doubters. Some fans and analysts have written him off as a draft bust after just one season. That's premature, but hope would evaporate almost entirely if he cannot galvanize his performance levels with Quinn and Whitt leading the charge.

Watching his progress throughout training camp and preseason games will be crucial. If there's notable progress, Forbes might just surprise a few in 2024.