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Emmanuel Forbes draft profile: Scouting report, stats and NFL projection

Mississippi State Bulldogs cornerback Emmanuel Forbes is one of the best defensive playmakers in the 2023 NFL Draft. After earning All-American honors this past season, the Mississippi native is now poised to be a top pick and a future NFL starter.

Forbes, age 22, enters the league with plenty of buzz surrounding him. The young cornerback was one of the nation’s interception leaders over the last three seasons, seemingly making plays for Mississippi State’s defense on a weekly basis. Now, teams are hoping he can do the same at the highest level.

Related: 2023 NFL mock draft

Before diving into our scouting report and background on Forbes, here are all his measurables you need to know from the NFL Combine.

Emmanuel Forbes measurables

  • Emmanuel Forbes height: 6-foot-1
  • Emmanuel Forbes weight: 166 pounds
  • Emmanuel Forbes 40 time: 4.35 seconds

Let’s dive into our Emmanuel Forbes scouting report and NFL projection.

Emmanuel Forbes stats and background

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Arizona
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Forbes, a Grenada High School alum, grew up in a relatively small Mississippi town. Playing under head coach Ashley Kuhn, Forbes starred on the football field but also lettered in baseball and basketball. As one of the best athletes in Mississippi, he was rated as a four-star recruit by 247 Sports and was the 13th-ranked cornerback in the 2020 recruiting class.

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He stayed close to home, playing just over an hour away at Davis Wade Stadium. While some of his peers saw limited snaps in their freshman seasons, Mississippi State thrust their young cornerback into a prominent role immediately. He played in 11 games, making nine starts, including an interception in his college debut.

Emmanuel Forbes statsSolo TacklesInterceptionsPass deflections
Emmanuel Forbes stats via CFR

Forbes showed even more growth as a sophomore, earning second-team All-SEC honors. In his second season, the 6-foot-1 cornerback started all 13 games and became an integral piece of the Bulldogs’ defense. By the time his junior season arrived, Forbes became one of the best defensive backs in college football.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft rumors

Across 12 games in 2022, Forbes recorded six interceptions including three pick-sixes. A majority of the damage came early in the year, with Forbes grabbing five interceptions in his first seven games. After that, quarterbacks learned to sway away from him.

Following three excellent seasons, Forbes declared for the 2023 NFL Draft. With the draft weekend approaching, here’s why Forbes could become just the fifth Mississippi State player to be drafted in the first round since 2013.

Statistics courtesy of College Football ReferenceESPN, and Pro Football Focus

Emmanuel Forbes scouting report

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Size, length, speed are some of the traits that Forbes brings to the table. The 6-foot-1 cornerback tested extremely well at the NFL Combine, with a Relative Athletic score that compares to the likes of Greedy Williams, Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

It’s easy to tell on the stat sheet that Forbes has a nose for the football, but it’s also evident when watching him this past season. He knows when to jump routes, how to trick quarterbacks into thinking he isn’t there to make a play and his understanding of what’s going on is excellent.

When you have a young cornerback who already has an understanding of what might happen on a play before the snap and then can make quick adjustments after the snap, you get a playmaker. Forbes is one of the most intelligent football players in the 2022 class and that will help reduce his learning curve at the next level.

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There’s also plenty of versatility in his game. Forbes played a lot off zone coverage in college, with Mississippi State asking him to play off the line and use his athleticism to shine. However, he proved to be very comfortable and effective when he had a chance to be in press coverage, rerouting wide receivers after the snap.

It’s also not difficult to see the obvious flaws in Forbes’ game. He barely clears 165 pounds, making him one of the thinnest-framed cornerbacks in the draft class. If the wire-thin composition sticks, he won’t hold up well against strong receivers and a majority of NFL players will outweigh him.

Related: Devon Witherspoon scouting report

The other issue, as you might expect, is his risk-taking. Forbes can snag an interception, but his overaggressiveness also backfires. He had one of the highest missed tackle rates (18.2) on passing plays in the 2023 draft class and his reception rate allowed 53.4 percent), is far worse than the likes of Devon Witherspoon (35.5 percent) and Deonte Banks (43.3 percent).

NFL projection for Emmanuel Forbes

NCAA Football: East Tennessee State at Mississippi State
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The moment after he is drafted, the NFL team that picked Forbes will have him in the weight room. He will need to add significant muscle pass – 10-plus pounds – to be a viable starter in his NFL career.

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Coaches will have to work on his aggressive nature and obsession with trying to create a big turnover. If it doesn’t change, veteran quarterbacks will have no trouble exploiting Forbes and he’ll also bite on some moves by wide receivers that leave nothing but green grass for a big play.

However, Forbes is a scheme-versatile outside cornerback whose football IQ, length, athleticism and instincts all project nicely at the next level. The team that drafts him with a top-45 pick should feel comfortable starting him as a rookie, as long as they know there will be plenty of growing pains along the way.

Ideally, he lands with a team that has a veteran safety to back him up and spends time in a cornerbacks room surrounded by experienced players. It’s why teams like the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings stand out as ideal landing spots.