Since the Los Angeles Rams don’t seem too interested in doing anything during the NFL free agency period (there’s still time), let’s divert our attention back to the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Rams have 12 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft in Kansas City, which starts April 27. They don’t have a first-round pick. That went to the Lions for Matthew Stafford, but they do pick 36th overall. With some luck they’ll be able to find a player with first round value.
It’ll happen by the way, there will be a rush on quarterbacks in the first round pushing good players back.
Since our first prospect preview, the Rams have traded away Jalen Ramsey, leaving a big hole in their secondary. They just lost safety Nick Scott this week to the Bengals. The Rams need offensive linemen and an edge rusher, but now also need a solid No. 1 cornerback.
The good news is this appears to be a good draft for cornerbacks. Here’s the skinny (and we mean skinny) on Mississippi State defensive back Emmanuel Forbes Jr.
Meet Emmanuel Forbes Jr.
Six pick sixes in college. Six. That’s a Football Bowl Subdivision record. That’s the first thing you want to know about Forbes. Jr. That shows an incredible (and unteachable) instinct for the ball.
Forbes Jr. is from Grenada, Mississippi. It’s a small town of about 14,000, 100 miles south of Memphis. Forbes Jr. played three sports for the Grenada Chargers (yes, I watched his high school highlights, he was a DB and wide receiver). He was highly rated coming out of Grenada and picked Mississippi State. His State bio says he has 10 siblings.
He was measured at the NFL Combine as 6-foot-1, 166 pounds and if that sounds light, then you’re paying attention. Maybe 10 siblings means it’s hard to get the big turkey leg at the dinner table.
I checked his Twitter page…nothing scary there, just lots of Miss State stuff. (hey, you have to check those things now).
The Mississippi State Days
Forbes Jr. made an impact as soon as he showed up in Starkville with an interception in his first game against LSU. He made nine starts as a freshman, and had five interceptions, including three he ran back for scores.
Remember now, Mississippi State ran the all-pass Mike Leach offense, and games were a shootout. As a sophomore, Forbes Jr. had three picks in 13 starts. Last year, he made six interceptions, including three more he ran back for scores. He was second-team AP All-American and first-team All-SEC.
The knock on him was that he may be too slow to be a CB1 in the NFL, but he blew that away at the NFL Combine running a 4.35 in the 40, then chirped afterwards to NFL.com that he thought it was ‘pretty normal.’
Miss. State was 4-7 when Forbes Jr. was a freshman, 7-6 in 2021 and got crushed in the Liberty Bowl, last year they went 9-4 and beat Illinois in the bowl game.
Scouting The Scouts
There is no consensus on Forbes Jr. I know, surprise right? NFL.com praised his instincts and awareness (duh, six pick sixes) and said he was good at zone and press-man coverage. However, it says his slender build will make him a target for opposing running games.”
In other words, teams can run at him, he’s 166 pounds.
They said Forbes Jr. had ‘issues staying in phase at break points’ and dear reader, if you know what that means, let me know. What in the world is a phase?
Meanwhile, cbssports.com said Forbes Jr. was strong in “staying in phase on downfield routes.”
Another site said that despite Forbes Jr.’s size, he was “excellent in the run game. Plays more physical than you would expect.”
Mel Kiper Jr. had him as a late first-round pick, but most sites I saw had him listed in the early to late second round. It is a good draft for corners.
Let’s be real, the Rams would be taking Forbes Jr. for his coverage skills, not for run support.
How Forbes Jr. Fits The Rams
After discarding Ramsey for a bag of chips, the Rams need a cornerback with elite athleticism (Forbes Jr. checks that box) who can come in and play right away.
You may wonder, how does Forbes Jr. match up against DK Metcalf of the Seahawks with his size, or Deebo Samuel of the Niners with his speed, and the answer is NFL cornerbacks need to be quick. The way the rules are set up in the NFL, there is bump-and-run coverage anymore. It doesn’t do any good to have a 6-foot-3 defensive back who is as tall as Metcalf. He can’t touch him anyway.
So the trend in the NFL, and with the Rams, is to get smallish type of defensive backs who can stay within arms length of a wide receiver (or tight end) and punch the ball out when it comes, distract the receiver by being in there space, or maybe, just maybe making a play on the ball themselves.
While playing for Miss State, Forbes Jr. saw lots of balls come his way. In practice, Miss State threw the ball all over the place. He’s got experience against good WR in the SEC and can be a CB1 for the Rams. And I like the cockiness after running the 40. I think the Rams are in the phase where they can use Forbes Jr.