The Washington Commanders threw a wrench into the 2023 NFL Draft plans of the Dallas Cowboys by taking Emmanuel Forbes, according to a recent report.
There is always oneupmanship associated with the draft process. Teams are always looking to get leverage and advantage over one another in pursuit of finding the right prospects from the collegiate ranks that can take their respective franchises forward.
It's a tale as old as time. One only has to examine the amount of smokescreens, false narratives, and everything in between leaked by team personnel throughout the assessment phase, which is always lapped up by reporters and insiders to fuel the fire.
The Washington Commanders went about their business in their typically understated fashion. A method that's become synonymous with head coach Ron Rivera's time with the organization and a far cry from the erratic decision-making that became prevalent when Dan Snyder held absolute power.
Commanders beat the Cowboys to Emmanuel Forbes
Washington picked up some decent players from their eight picks that turned into seven thanks to a trade-up for edge rusher K.J. Henry in the fifth round. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN (subscription required), they also got one over on a fierce NFC East rival for good measure.
The respected insider stated that the Dallas Cowboys were keeping a close eye on Emmanuel Forbes before the Commanders swooped way before they went on the clock at No. 16 overall. With Dalton Kincaid also off the board, Jerry Jones and his staff settled on defensive tackle Mazi Smith, which was seen as a reach by many.
"The Cowboys were closely watching Mississippi State corner Emmanuel Forbes, who went No. 16 overall to Washington. At 26, with tight end Dalton Kincaid off the board, Dallas was deciding between (Mazi) Smith and Syracuse offensive tackle Matt Bergeron."- Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
If Dallas was hoping Forbes would be available that late in the first round, they hadn't been paying attention. The former Mississippi State star gained some significant traction over the final few days before the big night, which led many to suspect the Commanders would be his final destination based on rumors.
Bill Belichick, on the other hand, knew exactly what was unfolding in front of his eyes.
Christian Gonzalez was sliding down the pecking order and his trusted men were convinced which direction Washington would go. The New England Patriots then traded down with the Pittsburgh Steelers - who took the only premier offensive tackle (Broderick Jones) left on the board - a prospect that would have likely been selected by their AFC East rival New York Jets.
This allowed the wily old fox to hinder the Jets and also get his prospect of choice in Gonzalez at No. 17 overall - one spot after the Commanders took Forbes.
As the old saying goes, chess not checkers.
If Forbes reaches his ceiling, then he'll be a thorn in the Cowboys' side for years to come. His upcoming clashes with CeeDee Lamb promise to be mouth-watering and will play a big role in the outcome of their divisional contests next season and way into the future.
Nobody will fully appreciate the significance of this until the 2023 NFL Draft class gets some decent next-level work under their belts. Forbes' upside is there for all to see, but some growing pains during his initial transition cannot be dismissed - especially if the Commanders leave him out on an island in keeping with most other shutdown players at the position.
And who knows, this could end up being a masterstroke with multiple benefits from Rivera and the Commanders.