The Cincinnati Bengals are about to have to pay quite a few talented offensive players huge contracts. That means the more positions they can fill with talented players on rookie contracts the better.
That reality is coming up with the cornerback position. Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton both have contracts expiring after each of the next two seasons. They will also be near their 30s which is not the time Cincinnati has historically chosen to give corners long-term contracts.
That means this extremely deep class of cornerbacks seems to be extra intriguing for Cincinnati. Further proof of that is them having a Top 30 visit set with Emmanuel Forbes Jr. from Mississippi State.
Mississippi State @HailStateFB cornerback Emmanuel Forbes Jr., (4.35 speed) one of the top defensive back prospects, visited #Cowboys on Tuesday and visits #Eagles on Wednesday followed by visits with #Ravens, #Commanders, #Patriots and #Bengals @KPRC2 https://t.co/tb8CUkxFTo— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 5, 2023
Forbes is currently NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s 34th-ranked player. One that wouldn’t be shocking to be taken in the first round when it is all said and done.
Here is Jeremiah's description:
Forbes is a rail-thin cornerback with outstanding instincts and ball skills. He is at his best in off coverage, where he utilizes his unique route awareness to drive and make plays on the ball. He collected three pick-sixes this past fall. He doesn’t have any wasted movement and is always under control. In man coverage, he can press and mirror underneath while possessing enough speed to carry vertical routes. He does an outstanding job of playing the pocket at the catch point and poking the ball away downfield. He needs to improve his tackling, though, as he has too many fly-by misses. Overall, Forbes’ weight will be scrutinized, but his tape is outstanding.
The great thing about the Bengals’ current defensive back situation is whoever is taken won’t be forced to start. Awuzie should be back by the beginning of the season, the team recently signed Sidney Jones, and Cam Taylor-Britt has already secured his starting spot. Not to mention Hilton has the nickel corner role on lock.
That situation sounds ideal for Forbes. He has that knack for finding the ball, the willingness to tackle, is super fast, and is very aggressive. Pretty much everything Cincinnati has looked for in their recent defensive backs. All he really needs to do is get thrown into an NFL weight room where he can bulk up a bit to be able to make more plays in the running game and he should be good to go.
Of course, Forbes is just one of many names among a corner class that you quite literally could find starters well into the third round. He is the fifth corner and sixth defensive back on Jeremiah’s Top 50, and if the list went to 100 it wouldn’t be surprising to see that number land between 10 and 15 corners.
At the end of the day, if Forbes is the corner the Bengals choose to be one of their next guys, he should be there at 28. It will certainly be interesting to see what names are still around to choose from, but no one in Cincinnati should be mad if Forbes ends up being the pick.