The Washington Commanders used the first week of free agency to find upgrades at multiple positions. Washington signed two offensive linemen, both of whom are projected to start, a quarterback, linebacker, defensive tackle and claimed a cornerback off waivers.
The most significant move the Commanders made was re-signing defensive tackle Daron Payne to a four-year, $90 million contract.
While Washington added much-needed talent throughout the roster in the first week of free agency, holes remain. Fortunately for the Commanders, they can take the best available player at No. 16 overall instead of being forced to take a specific position.
Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN released his first mock draft since free agency began and gave the Commanders a cornerback at No. 16 — just not the one you expected.
Kiper went with Emmanuel Forbest of Mississippi State.
Before free agency, Washington had a massive hole at right tackle, but now that spot is filled by former Chiefs lineman Andrew Wylie, who signed a three-year deal last week. I’m not going to rule out the possibility of a tackle here — left tackle Charles Leno Jr. is 31 and on a reasonable contract through 2024 — but let’s move on to another key area: cornerback.
I’m a huge fan of Forbes, who is rail thin but really fast. He ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the combine but weighed in at 166 pounds, making him the lightest prospect at the position. He’s going to get bigger, of course, but some teams will be scared off by his size. The Commanders should capitalize; Forbes is a ball hawk who picked off 14 passes over the past three seasons — one of those was a pick-six off Will Levis — and could be an All-Pro player. He has gone up against some of college football’s best wideouts and consistently held his own.
Nothing wrong with Forbes here, but this is probably not the scenario Washington envisions. If Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon and Joey Porter Jr. are all off the board and the Commanders are determined to go with a cornerback, Forbest or Deonte Banks of Maryland would likely be the top choices.
Ideally, if things play out this way, Washington general manager Martin Mayhew is likely working the phones and looking to move back.
Former Washington cornerback Fred Smoot is a huge fan of Forbes and believes he’s a future star. With his height, long arms and speed, Forbes has everything you look for, but some will be concerned with his slight frame.