Emmanuel Forbes

Latest On Commanders’ CB Situation

The Commanders invested a first-round pick at the cornerback position last year, and the team followed that up with a second-round selection this spring. Both Emmanuel Forbes and Mike Sainristil could see notable roles in 2024.

Forbes had a record-breaking college career in terms of pick-sixes, but his ball skills were balanced against concerns related to his frame. The Mississippi State product was listed at 173 pounds during his rookie year, although to little surprise ESPN’s John Keim notes he has added weight this offseason. After finding himself a healthy scratch at times in 2023, Forbes could be in line for increased usage in Year 2.

The 23-year-old took first-team reps during spring practices, Keim notes. He rotated in a starting perimeter role with free agent addition Michael Davis, a veteran of 107 games and 74 starts with the Chargers. Forbes, by contrast, was limited to six starts and a 50% defensive snap share last season. He totaled one interception and 11 pass deflections, but coverage was an issue with three touchdowns and a 103 passer rating allowed as the nearest defender.

The Commanders overhauled their coaching staff this offseason, and the arrival of Dan Quinn has provided Forbes with a clean slate ahead of an important second season in the nation’s capital. Carrying over his spring performances into training camp – when padded practices take place – will of course be important for Forbes as he looks to earn a starting role opposite Benjamin St-Juste on the perimeter. Keim adds that Sainristil, meanwhile, will be used in the slot as he transitions to the pro game.

A converted receiver, the Michigan alum proved to be an effective cover man on the inside during his college career. Sainristil developed into a key member of the Wolverines’ defense, and translating that success in Washington would be crucial for a team which ranked last in points and yards allowed in 2023. Deploying a starting CB trio of Forbes, Sainristil and St-Juste would certainly mark a departure from Washington’s previous secondary and leave the team with a young set of cover men.

The latter is entering the final year of his rookie contract, but Forbes and Sainristil could both be under team control though 2028 if Forbes’ fifth-year option were to be picked up. A decision on that front will not need to be made until after the 2025 campaign, but it will be informed in large part by his play under Quinn and Co. this year.

Commanders Sign Emmanuel Forbes, Jartavius Martin To Wrap Draft Class

Thursday was an historic day for the Commanders off the field, but the team has also made transactions ensuring all members of their rookie class will be on the field in time for training camp. Cornerbacks Emmanuel Forbes and Jartavius Martin signed their initial NFL deals (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2).

Forbes will earn $15.41MM fully guaranteed on his four-year contract, including a signing bonus of $8.21MM. Martin was able to secure $5.11MM in guaranteed money out of the total value of $7.64MM on his contract. As a first-rounder, Forbes is eligible for the fifth-year option.

The secondary was an area of concern for Washington entering the draft, and it comes as no surprise that the team invested considerably at the CB position. Forbes was among the more polarizing members of a deep corner class, given his small frame (6-0, 180 pounds) and his ability to overcome it during his highly productive college career. He registered 14 interceptions and 20 pass breakups across three campaigns at Mississippi State, confirming his status as a Day 1 lock.

The Commanders selected Forbes with the No. 16 pick, notably electing not to take fellow corner Christian GonzalezThe latter had generally been rated higher, but Washington’s willingness to add either informed their decision to call off efforts to trade up with the Patriots for the No. 14 spot. Forbes will be expected to translate his ball production to the pro game early and often given his draft status and the team’s decision to go against what many analysts felt was a more desirable prospect.

The 195-pound Martin will provide more bulk than Forbes, and he too will be counted on to play a key role in the Commanders’ secondary in at least the intermediate future. The former spent five seasons at Illinois, pairing with Devon Witherspoon, the top corner selected in this year’s draft, in the process. Martin posted four interceptions and 17 PBUs in his final two campaigns, adding 6.5 tackles for loss in that span.

Forbes and Martin will look to earn immediate playing time in a CB room topped by Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Here is the final breakdown of the Commanders’ 2023 class:

Round 1, No. 16: Emmanuel Forbes, CB (Mississippi State)
Round 2, No. 47: Jartavius Martin, CB (Illinois)
Round 3, No. 97: Ricky Stromberg, C (Arkansas) (signed)
Round 4, No. 118: Braeden Daniels, T (Utah) (signed)
Round 5, No. 137 (from Cardinals through Bills): K.J. Henry, DE (Clemson) (signed)
Round 6, No. 193: Christopher Rodriguez, RB (Kentucky) (signed)
Round 7, No. 233: Andre Jones Jr., DE (Louisiana) (signed)

Latest On Patriots’ First-Round Trade Talks: Commanders, CBs, Jones, Jets, Steelers

The Patriots’ decision to trade their first-round pick (No. 14 overall) to the Steelers produced some fallout, with the Jets believed to have been targeting Broderick Jones at No. 15. The Commanders factor into this interesting decision as well, having also discussed a trade-up with the Pats.

Washington GM Martin Mayhew spoke with Patriots scouting director Eliot Wolf during the run-up to New England’s No. 14 selection. The terms discussed (via a video showing Commanders draft-night proceedings; h/t MassLive.com’s Mark Daniels) point to Washington not wanting to give up its third-round pick (No. 97) in a deal to climb two spots.

Mayhew indicated the team might be willing to send its fourth-rounder (No. 118) to the Patriots for No. 14, and a second phone conversation revealed the Pats were willing to throw in a sixth-rounder to acquire the Commanders’ third. But after the Packers chose Lukas Van Ness at No. 13, the Commanders stood down. Ron Rivera and Commanders exec Marty Hurney referenced the likelihood of either Emmanuel Forbes or Christian Gonzalez remaining on the board at No. 16 as a reason not to complete a trade with the Pats. As it turned out, both Forbes and Gonzalez were available.

Forbes, who returned six interceptions for touchdowns during a prolific career at Mississippi State, did not end up being docked for his size (6-foot, 166). Despite ESPN’s Scouts Inc. slotting Gonzalez as this draft’s eighth-best prospect and ranking Forbes 21st, Washington preferred the smaller player to the Oregon prospect. The Pats chose Gonzalez at No. 17.

The Commanders’ decision not to complete a trade to ensure they ended up with Forbes led to the Patriots sending their pick to the Steelers, who took Jones. The Pats ended up with a fourth-round pick (No. 120) two spots below the one they may well have been able to obtain from the Commanders, but the much-rumored bonus of denying the Jets a first-round tackle likely sweetened the deal for Bill Belichick and Co.

I’m not going to delve into the relationship between New England and the Jets; let’s just say I’m glad we found a partner,” Mike Tomlin said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). “I’ll put it this way: there wasn’t a lot of hesitation on New England’s end.”

Both Tomlin and GM Omar Khan confirmed the view inside the Steelers’ war room pointed to a Jets plan to take Jones. While the Jets have denied indicated they were comfortable with Will McDonald at No. 13 — their draft slot before the Aaron Rodgers trade — or 15, the belief around the league was a Jets preference for Jones. The Steelers are expected to give Jones a shot to unseat two-year left tackle incumbent Dan Moore.

We were speculating there. We knew with the acquisition of Aaron Rodgers and so forth, [the Jets] might be fishing in those waters,” Tomlin said. “And so we did what we thought we needed to do to get the player and the position that we coveted. … There was a run on the position, starting with, I think [Bears selection] Darnell Wright at about 10 where they were coming off pretty clean. We just had that as a position of priority and we had Broderick as an individual of priority.”

The Commanders chose corners in Rounds 1 and 2, selecting Illinois’ Jartavius Martin at No. 47. The team moved on from a William Jackson miscalculation last season and will expect Forbes and Martin to make significant impacts alongside Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Despite Fuller’s past as a slot corner, the Commanders are planning to leave him on the outside in their zone-based system, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Ron Rivera said OTAs have featured Forbes and St-Juste being used both inside and outside. Rivera noted the team liked what St-Juste, a 2021 third-rounder, brought as a slot defender last season.

As for the Patriots, Gonzalez marks the first pure corner Belichick has chosen in Round 1 since he took the reins in 2000. The team expected the Commanders to choose Forbes, leaving them Gonzalez, whom the Pats — despite their three-spot trade-down maneuver — universally held in high regard.

Teams have to wait a little bit here in the first round before they get their picks in. We didn’t know, but we had a pretty good feeling as to how Washington was going to play it out,” Pats player personnel director Mike Groh said (via Daniels). “So that sped things along for us. Again, it’s nice when you’ve got a consensus on a player. So from the coaching staff, to the scouts, we’re fairly unified grade wise on Christian. That just sped the process along.”

Commanders Use No. 16 On CB Emmanuel Forbes

Christian Gonzalez remains on the draft board, but the Commanders are ignoring the mock drafts and taking another cornerback. Washington has selected Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes at No. 16.

The latter had received more varied grades than the former, but he will enter the league with plenty of pedigree of his own. Forbes established himself as the class’ preeminent ballhawk during his career with the Bulldogs. He racked up six interceptions (three of which were returned for touchdowns) last season, bringing his total to 14 across three years. Forbes totaled a staggering six pick-sixes in college.

The most notable concern for Forbes is his size. With a 6-foot, 166-pound frame, he projects as one of the slightest corners to enter the league. Questions will be asked about his ability to handle NFL physicality, particularly in press coverage. If he can answer them, though, he can add a much-needed playmaking element to the Commanders’ secondary.

Washington recorded only nine interceptions last season, which ranked 28th in the league. Forbes should be able to boost that figure, while providing the team with another starting option on the backend. The Commanders still have Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste in the fold. They also signed Cameron Dantzler in free agency, and Forbes will represent another young addition to the CB room.

Forbes’ selection represents a slight disruption to the order in which many felt the cornerback class would fall on Day 1. Still, Forbes was in the conversation to hear his name called on Thursday, and his arrival will carry notable expectations in the nation’s capital.

AFC North Draft Rumors: Steelers, Ravens, Bengals

There have been quite a few rumors surrounding the Steelers’ potential approach to the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette held a Q&A this week to discuss his thoughts on some of those rumors.

Many fans had questions about potential options at wide receiver, and Dulac made his thoughts very clear: no higher than the third round. With Diontae Johnson and George Pickens in place, Dulac doesn’t see any need to dip into the first two rounds to add to the group. He mentions Ole Miss wide receiver Jonathan Mingo as a name to lookout for, as Mingo has been predicted to go around the third or fourth round.

Another fan asked about the possibility of Pittsburgh trading up in the first round. Dulac dismissed the rumors as just that, insinuating that looking into trades is a common occurrence for the Steelers that doesn’t always lead to action. He referenced last year, when the team reportedly looked into trading up for quarterback Kenny Pickett, who would end up falling to them at their original position, anyway.

Here are a few other draft rumors from around the AFC North:

Draft Rumors: Murphy, Banks, Branch, Forbes, Torrence

One of the top edge defenders available in the draft, Clemson’s Myles Murphy will have a busy week. The 6-foot-5 pass rusher met with the Jaguars earlier this week, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets, and Bengals, Falcons and Texans visits are on tap for one of Clemson’s two first-round-caliber D-line talents. Joining D-tackle Bryan Bresee on this front, Murphy submitted a consistent resume at the ACC power. In three seasons, the 268-pound edge recorded 18.5 sacks and 36 tackles for loss. The Jaguars, who have drafted an edge in Round 1 three times since 2019, go on the clock at No. 24. The Bengals, who have Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard signed beyond 2023, hold the No. 28 pick. The Texans (Nos. 2, 12) and Falcons (No. 8) are needier on the edge, but their draft slots might not align with a player ranked just outside the top 20.

Here is the latest from the draft:

  • Both Scouts Inc. and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah grade Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks just outside the top 20 as well, but he appears to be interviewing well with teams and trending upward. The Commanders, Ravens and Steelers are three of the teams impressed by Banks, per the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora, who adds others are intrigued by the 6-foot cover man. The Raiders will host the former Big Ten defender today, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. The Steelers will be connected to Round 1 corners, having lost Cameron Sutton, and the Ravens have not re-signed Marcus Peters. Both Washington and Pittsburgh cut William Jackson over the past seven months. The Raiders, who have not re-signed Rock Ya-Sin, seemingly have a perpetual cornerback need.
  • In addition to Emmanuel ForbesLions visit, the Mississippi State corner is a popular pre-draft guest. The Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots, Steelers, Titans and Vikings are on his visit schedule, Jon Sokoloff of WCBI tweets, with Wilson adding the Bengals and Commanders will take a look as well. Forbes’ frame will certainly come up at these meetings. Despite posting a Division I FBS-record six pick-sixes and intercepting 14 passes in three seasons, Forbes being 6-foot and 166 pounds will be an issue for teams. Nevertheless, he profiles as a late-first-round talent.
  • Staying on the DB front, Alabama’s Brian Branch might be the best bet for safety-needy teams in what is viewed as a weak class at the position. The Falcons, Commanders, Raiders, Texans and Vikings are on Branch’s pre-draft itinerary, per Wilson, who adds the Bills have a workout scheduled for the multiyear Crimson Tide contributor as well. Branch has extensive slot experience as well, providing potential flexibility for teams considering him in the late first round.
  • Like Branch, Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence profiles as the top player at his position going into the draft. The Louisiana transfer became a consensus All-American in 2022, and the Bills, Commanders and Steelers have auditioned him thus far, per Wilson and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter links). Each of these teams have added at guard already this offseason. The Steelers signed both Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, while the Bills signed Connor McGovern. The Commanders signed ex-Giant Nick Gates but have plans to use him at center, where he played before a severe September 2021 injury sidetracked his career.

Emmanuel Forbes, O’Cyrus Torrence, Brian Branch On Lions’ Visit Schedule

Connected to bigger names at No. 6 overall, the Lions have two first-rounders. Players who should be expected to factor into Detroit’s second selection — No. 18 — are showing up on their pre-draft radar.

Detroit’s No. 6 pick belonged to the Rams, via the Jared Goff trade, but the NFC North team is gathering intel on prospects who could be available at 18. The Lions will host Florida offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence on April 17, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets, adding a visit with Alabama defensive back Brian Branch is also on the team’s itinerary. Ditto Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, per WCBI’s Jon Sokoloff (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Lions To Meet With Will Anderson Jr.]

A transfer from Louisiana to Florida last year, Torrence finished his lone Gators season as a consensus All-American at guard. He grades this draft’s top interior O-lineman available, per Scouts Inc. and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, who each have the one-and-done SECer ranked just outside the top 30.

The Lions agreed to a reworked deal with Halapoulivaati Vaitai this offseason and have their other guard starter, Jonah Jackson, going into a contract year. Graham Glasgow is back on the team, but the 2016 Lions draftee is on a one-year agreement. Vaitai’s reworked contract also removed 2024, moving the injury-plagued blocker into a contract year.

Forbes notched three pick-sixes last season and holds the career Division I-FBS record with six in his career, getting there despite playing just three seasons with the Bulldogs. Forbes intercepted 14 passes in total in college, but size will cloud his tremendous production numbers. The 6-foot-1 corner weighed 166 pounds at the Combine. Scouts Inc. still rates Forbes just inside the top 30.

Branch checks in a few spots lower, but the former Crimson Tide safety profiles as the headliner of a mediocre crop at the position. Branch, who goes 5-11 and 190 pounds, offers flexibility as well; he saw considerable time in the slot at Alabama. He joined Torrence as a consensus All-American last season.

Coming off a season in which they ranked last defensively, the Lions have made major additions in the secondary this offseason. They brought in Cameron Sutton and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The team also added ex-49er Emmanuel Moseley on a lower-cost deal and re-signed Will Harris. They traded Jeff Okudah to the Falcons on Tuesday. At safety, the Lions have Gardner-Johnson as an option — though, he primarily patrolled the slot during his time under Aaron Glenn in New Orleans — along with second-year cog Kerby Joseph and veteran Tracy Walker.