Grading Commanders' last six first-round picks ahead of 2024 NFL Draft

It's been a mixed bag...
Jamin Davis
Jamin Davis / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Emmanuel Forbes - Commanders CB

  • Cornerback | Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • No. 16 overall | 2023 NFL Draft

Emmanuel Forbes quickly became the apple of Ron Rivera's eye during what turned out to be his final draft as Washington Commanders head coach and primary decision-maker. The cornerback developed a ballhawk reputation at Mississippi State, coming down with 14 interceptions in three seasons - six of which he returned for touchdowns.

There were major concerns about Forbes' slender build and how it might hold up against more physically imposing NFL wide receivers. That didn't deter Rivera, who selected him at No. 16 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft despite Christian Gonzalez - a projected top 10 pick - falling into their laps.

Fans were approaching the pick with cautious optimism. However, it didn't take long to realize Forbes was going to go through some significant turmoil as a rookie.

Forbes got a rude awakening in no uncertain terms. He was outmatched physically and became a liability in coverage. Rivera tasked him with huge responsibilities - often against the opposition's No. 1 wideout. It was a challenge he simply wasn't ready for.

Being baptized twice by A.J. Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles seemed to shake his confidence tremendously. Rivera eventually benched Forbes to take him out of the firing line. Things didn't improve much when he returned to the lineup, so the jury is still out as to whether or not this was the right call.

Writing off Forbes after one season would be foolish. He was hung out to dry by Rivera and Jack Del Rio as they desperately tried to save their jobs. Hopefully, Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr.'s outstanding credentials when it comes to enhancing the development of defensive backs is something that can help him bounce back in 2024.

Grade: Incomplete

Forbes has the athleticism and instincts needed to potentially carve out a long-term role for himself. But if he doesn't respond to coaching this offseason and continues to struggle when competitive action resumes, concerns will grow around his long-term aspirations.