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Commanders 2023 season review | Cornerbacks


The Washington Commanders are just a few weeks removed from the 2023 season, which resulted in a disappointing 4-13 record. The franchise is headed in a new direction this offseason with the No. 2 overall pick and plenty of available cap space for new general manager Adam Peters to work with.

Over the next few weeks, Peters, and eventually the new head coach, will go through the roster to determine what moves, if any, should be taken to bolster each position. Though we don't have any say in how the new front office will mold the team going forward, will look back at how each group performed last season, breaking down top performers and looking ahead at where they could go next.

Next, we'll focus on the cornerbacks.

On the roster

  • Emmanuel Forbes Jr.: 14 games (6 starts), 38 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 1 INT
  • Kyu Blu Kelly: 2 games, 5 tackles
  • Benjamin St-Juste: 16 games (16 starts), 67 tackles, 1 sack, 17 pass breakups, 1 INT
  • Tariq Castro-Fields: 8 games (1 start), 4 tackles
  • Kendall Fuller*: 15 games (15 starts), 79 tackles, 2 INTs, 9 pass breakups
  • Christian Holmes: 13 games, 8 tackles, 1 pass breakups

* Entering free agency

Top performers (per Pro Football Focus)

  • OVR: Kendall Fuller (83.1)
  • RDEF: Kendall Fuller (78.1)
  • TACK: Kendall Fuller (86.0)
  • COV: Kendall Fuller (82.8)

Stats to know

  • PFF graded Fuller as the Commanders' best defensive player in 2023, and the veteran cornerback put up some career numbers in his eighth season. His defensive grade of 83.1, run defense grade of 78.1 and cover grade of 82.8 were the second highest of his career, while his 86 tackle grade was a career high. Fuller missed only four tackles with a miss rate of 5.1% -- a career low.
  • It's been emphasized plenty of times by now, but giving up explosive plays was a lingering problem for the Commanders all season. As a group, Washington's cornerbacks gave up 950 yards after the catch, which ranked fifth most in the league.

Questions to answer

-- How to address depth: Fuller proved that he can still be one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL last season, and while St-Juste and Forbes had their problems, they're going to be on the roster next season and could be quality starters with the right guidance. There are several questions about the rest of the position, though. Players like Castro-Fields and Holmes had their moments, but it's clear they are not starters at this point in their careers. It's reasonable to expect the Commanders to look at the draft for depth, but they might also benefit from bringing in veterans via free agency. Re-signing Fuller is an option the team could consider, but players like Adoree' Jackson and Stephon Gilmore, who still can offer solid snaps despite being the second oldest available player at the position, are set to hit the open market as well.

-- Forbes' development: Forbes was expected to help create more turnovers for the Commanders, a problem for the team in 2022, and come in as a Day 1 starter. He could still do that, but the rookie objectively underperformed last season. He was part of the reason the Commanders had such a problem with giving up explosive plays, particularly in the team's first matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. That's not to say that the year was devoid of positive moments from Forbes. He took a jump around the middle of the season and did a better job of giving up explosive plays after being benched. Still, the Commanders drafted him with the hope that he would help them flip the field with his talent for grabbing interceptions. How he develops, and whether he can turn into that player at the professional level, will be something to watch in OTAs, minicamp and training camp.

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