Emmanuel Forbes' Commanding Presence
There is a different energy you want being radiated by every position. For cornerbacks, teams look for confidence and swagger to ooze out of the player. It is a type of energy that brings life to the rest of the defense and a belief that they can guard any player that steps in front of them without any help. New Commanders cornerback, Emmanuel Forbes has that very aura; his chutzpah is palpable which is why they drafted him 16th overall out of Mississippi State. Week-in week-out, Forbes lined up against a top receiver for the opposing SEC team and proved that he was capable of sticking with an assortment of different skillsets and body types. The Commanders have to face receivers like CeeDee Lamb, AJ Brown, and Devonta Smith twice a year, and now they have a player that has the ability to guard those guys without a safety over top.
When looking at how Forbes moves; he is extremely unique. Forbes has long limbs and naturally plays pretty high, but he has very fluid hips which allows him to transition efficiently in man coverage. Usually a player’s hips are a reflection of their feet, but in Forbes’ case his feet can get stuck when playing off-coverage. This prevents him from using his 4.35 speed at the top of breaks. When matching receivers in tight-man coverage, Forbes’ hips swivel like the wheels of a Ferrari. However, when he is asked to read and play square he struggles sinking his hips and triggering his feet to come down hill. Forbes will need to improve his ability to match receivers breaks’ at the top of their routes when he is in off coverage. With that being said, a lot of that is just technique and can be taught; his natural fluidity and ability to open up is innate and can be used to improve this area of his game.
A big knock on Forbes is his weight, and while he is unusually light, it is not noticeable when you watch him play. Forbes is an alpha, his heart outweighs his mass. I love the aggression that Forbes demonstrates when having to make tackles on the perimeter as a force run defender. He presses blocks and his passion reaps through the film when watching him tackle in space. Forbes is a “swing for the fences” tackler which means he is going to come in hard with the potential to make a devastating hit, but sometimes he misses. Nonetheless, his willingness to put all 166 lbs. into every tackle is something that coaches can get excited about. Forbes runs, hits, and talks shit; three things that make him a really good cornerback.
The area of Forbes’ game that separates him as a player are his ball skills. Forbes looks like a receiver when the ball is in the air; he had 14 interceptions in college and returned six of them for touchdowns (an NCAA power five record). There is no sense of panic when the ball is in the air, Forbes is poised and also has the speed to recover when beat. Receivers need to have strong hands when Forbes is in coverage because he plays through the catch point and is physical throughout the entire route. While Forbes’ eyes get him in trouble in zone coverage, he does a nice job at getting his eyes up when the ball is in the air downfield. The combination of confidence, risk taking, and ball skills all remind me of Marcus Peters. While Forbes is a little longer than Peters (in the top 25% of NFL corners), the two carry a similar energy and skillset.
I am a really big fan of Emmanuel Forbes, but I understand that he is not a fit in every system. If he is able to play without thinking in a reactive manner, I believe he has a very high ceiling. For a defensive coordinator like Jack Del Rio who is aggressive and plays a lot of traditional man coverage, I think Forbes is a really good fit. Their staff will need to get him more comfortable keeping his shoulders square and feet active, but Forbes has the talent to develop into one of the league’s top corners. The more he plays, the smarter he will get; however, I anticipate his eyes getting him in trouble early on. Forbes is not a finished product, but he has the ingredients to become one of the best corners in the NFL.
Movement Ability (Hips + Feet): 12/14
Speed + Control: 10.25/12
Ball Skills: 11/12
Physicality + Aggression: 9.25/10
Instincts + Intelligence: 6.5/8
Poise + Confidence: 7/8
Pursuit + Competitiveness: 5/6
Length + Hand Usage: 5/6
Final Rating: 85
Pro Comparison: Longer Marcus Peters
Draft Grade: Top 20 Player