The Washington Commanders were a top-10 defense in 2022 by every metric. Washington was No. 3 in total defense, No. 4 in pass defense, No. 11 in run defense and No. 7 in scoring defense. The Commanders also finished No. 9 in Football Outsiders' total defensive DVOA.
Everyone knows about Washington's defensive line. Defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are going to the Pro Bowl. Defensive end Montez Sweat had an outstanding season, while fellow DE Chase Young returned down the stretch and played well.
As far as Washington's secondary safety Kamren Curl has finally begun to receive the recognition he deserves. As good as Curl is, he's not Washington's only talented young safety.
NFL.com recently named one unsung hero for all 32 NFL teams from the 2022 season. A player who was either overlooked or became a surprise contributor.
That player for the Commanders is Darrick Forrest. The second-year safety from Cincinnati was a fifth-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft but missed most of his rookie season with an injury. He was expected to be a key special-teamer and role player on defense in 2022. However, when Curl missed the first game after undergoing hand surgery, Forrest stepped in.
He was outstanding. When Curl returned in Week 3, Forrest remained in the lineup. Eventually, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio made Forrest a permanent starter at safety alongside Curl, allowing Bobby McCain to move inside to slot corner, a position he's played in the past.
Forrest and Curl represent some of Washington's terrific drafting in recent years. In addition to Forrest being a former fifth-round pick, Curl was a seventh-round selection in 2020 and is now one of the NFL's top young safeties.
Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire