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Emmanuel Forbes ranked among top 10 most impactful NFC East rookies for 2023


Emmanuel Forbes turned heads during the Washington Commanders' OTAs and minicamp, and some national analysts are expecting big things from the rookie in 2023. 

In a recent story from FOX Sports' Ralph Vacchiano, Forbes was ranked third on the NFC East reporter's list of top 10 NFC East rookies set to make the biggest impact this season. Forbes was the second highest defensive player on Vacchiano's list, beating out fellow defensive backs like the Giants' Deonte Banks and the Eagles' Sydney Brown. 

"They don't need him to lock down bigger NFL receivers," Vacchiano wrote. "They need him to be the guy who had six interceptions last season, 14 in three years, and an NCAA Division I record six Pick-6s."

The Commanders would be happy if that was all Forbes ended up being during his rookie season. Head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio recognized that they needed to add a ball hawk to a defense that finished the 2022 season third in yards allowed and fourth in passing yards allowed.

So far, Forbes has looked exactly like the Commanders hoped he would.

"Obviously, there is the physical nature of the game that we'll have to watch once we get the pads on, but as of right now everything else he's done, he's done exactly what we saw," Rivera said. "He is a ball hawk. He does time it out very well, does put himself in position."

Forbes matched up against the Commanders' best receivers this offseason, including Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. There were some moments where the wideouts got the better of Forbes, but for the most part, Forbes held his own and even managed to record some pass breakups during team drills.

That has to excite Del Rio, who was "fired up" about adding Forbes to the secondary.

"I think he's a tremendous football player," Del Rio said. "He's fast. He's got great ball skills. He's very bright and he played against some of the best competition that you can being in the SEC and held up week in and week."

Vacchiano believes that Forbes could end up spending time as a nickel corner with Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste as outside cornerbacks. Forbes mostly played on the outside during minicamp, but he did end up getting some snaps in nickel sets.

Vacchiano wrote that playing at nickel would give Forbes "more of a chance to roam and do what he does best -- go get the ball." We'll see how much time Forbes actually spends at that position, but the Commanders should be comfortable putting him there if the situation calls for it.

"He's looked pretty good," Rivera said. "He's very quick. That's one of the things that he is, he's really quick. When you get those little water bug routes where the guys are trying to run options off you inside or out, he seems to handle those very well."

The Commanders were adamant after drafting Forbes that he could help elevate their defense. While it's easier to look impressive in June than it is in August, there has been nothing that would suggest Forbes is incapable of being that type of player.

And if he can maintain that level of production throughout his rookie season, it can only mean good things for the Burgundy & Gold.

"He'll be put in position to get his hands on plenty of errant passes," Vacchiano wrote, "which could transform a Washington defense that was already pretty good."

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