NFC East rival benching 2023 first-round pick shows Cowboys avoided disaster

Arkansas v Mississippi State
Arkansas v Mississippi State / Justin Ford/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys haven't gotten much out of their 2023 draft class.

A number of prospects were linked with the Cowboys, who had the No. 26 overall pick. The list included tight ends Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid and Luke Musgrave. Additionally, guards Steve Avila and O'Cyrus Torrence were considered high possibilities.

There was even some chatter of the Cowboys drafting a wide receiver. They met with mutliple prospects who went in the first round, including Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston and Zay Flowers.

Cornerback is another position that piqued Dallas' interest. Like tight end and receiver, the front office did its due diligence on multiple defensive backs, including Mississippi State standout Emmanuel Forbes.

It's early in Forbes' career, but the Cowboys might have dodged disaster by missing out on the slender CB, who went No. 16 overall to Washington.

After a string of poor performances, the Commanders benched Forbes in Week 6.

Commanders did the Cowboys huge favor taking Emmanuel Forbes in 2023 NFL Draft

Forbes initially was benched in Week 5 and he didn't play a single snap in Week 6 despite dressing for the game against the Falcons.

Offensive coordinators have made it a point to target Forbes, who was a ball-hawk in college but drew red flags leading up to the draft because of his slight 165-pound frame. While he posted a 9.26 relative athletic score, teams had reservations about how he'd handle the physicality of the NFL.

After six games, those concerns are justified. In Week 2, Forbes allowed four catches for 86 yards and logged a ghastly 25.7 run-defense grade. Beyond struggling contending with physical receivers in coverage, Forbes' slight frame has loomed large when he's tried tackling ball-carriers in the open field.

Forbes has five missed tackles on the season and owns a 26.7 run-defense grade. His coverage numbers are just as alarming.

Per Pro Football Focus, he's allowed 20 catches on 27 targets for 401 yards (20.1 yards per reception) and two touchdowns. That adds up to a 125.2 passer rating allowed and he's also responsible for 121 yards after the catch.

Imagine the Cowboys were dealing with this right now? After losing Trevon Diggs for the season with a knee injury? Luckily, Dallas had already traded for Stephon Gilmore, but who knows what the cornerback room looks like if they drafted Forbes.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported post-draft that the Cowboys were "closely watching" Forbes before he went 16th to the Commanders.

First-round pick Mazi Smith hasn't lived up to expectations, but he was drafted with an eye on the future. The hope is he'll continue improving with more experience as he adapts to the NFL and develop into a starter by year two.

Even with Smith's slow start, Forbes would have been an awful pick for Dallas. Thankfully, the Commanders were looking out.

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