Re-grading the Commanders 2023 NFL Draft class after one season

Ron Rivera's no longer head coach of the Washington Commanders for a variety of reasons, but the poor returns from the team's 2023 NFL Draft class are one of the biggest.

Emmanuel Forbes
Emmanuel Forbes / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Emmanuel Forbes - Commanders CB

  • Cornerback | Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • No. 16 overall

There were plenty of reasons to consider Emmanuel Forbes a Grade-A pick last April. He established a reputation as the king of the pick-six at Mississippi State, somebody who could add the turnover potential the Washington Commanders needed on defense.

That was the theory, anyway, but Forbes never settled in a scheme ill-suited to his core skills. Those skills are a flair for playing man coverage and guessing right more often than not when gambling on the ball.

There was one problem, though. Make that two problems. First, the Commanders put a man-coverage cornerback into a defense built around zone coverage.

It was depressingly reminiscent of when Ron Rivera signed William Jackson III in free agency, based largely on the latter's assurance playing man. Amazingly, the head coach and former defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio were surprised when he couldn't play zone.

Scheme aside, Forbes naturally had trouble adapting to the physicality of the NFL. A slight build left the 6-foot-0, 180-pounder bullied by bigger-bodied wide receivers.

The problem was most notable when A.J. Brown toyed with Forbes during an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4. The dominant wideout helped himself to nine catches, 175 receiving yards, and two touchdowns, including this one to humble the No. 16 overall selection.

Forbes needs a scheme he likes and a few more pounds on his frame, but both of those things are easily attainable. He's talented enough for the Commanders to keep the faith and work out a way to help him play like a first-rounder.

Draft Grade: C-