Even though James Wiggins has received attention leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, his partner in crime in the Cincinnati secondary is an ascending prospect late in the process. Can Cincinnati safety Darrick Forrest ensure that the Bearcats have multiple defensive backs selected in the NFL Draft for the first time since 2009?
Darrick Forrest NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Cincinnati
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 200 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Darrick Forrest Scouting Report
Positives: Three-year starter and a solid safety with poor size and play speed. Effectively reads and diagnoses the action, keeps plays in front of him, and works well with cornerbacks in pass defense. Takes proper angles to the action, fires upfield, and gives effort defending the run. Displays a solid burst to the ball out of his plant, sells out to make plays, and brings down ball carriers in the open field.
Negatives: Lacks long speed and lateral speed. Late getting to the sidelines in coverage.
Analysis: Forrest was a terrific defensive back at the college level but lacks NFL play speed. He’s a dime safety whose career hinges on special teams.
Darrick Forrest Player Profile
Forrest’s late ascension as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect mirrors his early football journey. A multi-sport athlete at Walnut Ridge High School in Columbus, Forrest excelled at track and basketball, in addition to being productive on the football field. Over his first two playing seasons, he registered 53 tackles and 5 pass breakups. He also saw time on offense as a wide receiver.
A three-star recruit, Forrest was only ranked as the 212th cornerback in the nation. Despite visiting a Kentucky Wildcats’ training camp early in the recruiting process, his offers would be limited to two local schools in the MAC — Ohio and Miami of Ohio. He committed to the Redhawks prior to his senior season at Walnut Ridge.
A standout senior season where he registered 54 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles helped Forrest earn a second-team selection on the 2016 Associated Press All-Central District team. Moreover, it earned him an additional offer. The Bearcats had Forrest in for a visit late in the process, and he would flip his commitment from Miami to play safety for Cincinnati.
Darrick Forrest’s college football career at Cincinnati
Forrest arrived in Cincinnati as they lost defensive back Mike Tyson to the 2017 NFL Draft. As a result, he saw immediate playing time as a reserve defensive back, logging tackles against Michigan, Navy, and USF. Furthermore, he’d see action in all 12 games on special teams — experience that will prove valuable in the NFL.
Having impressed as a backup in 2017, Forrest emerged as a full-time starter in 2018. He demonstrated his tackling ability with 49 tackles which included multiple career-high 7 tackle games. He secured his first career interception against a Miami (OH) team that was so nearly the home for his college football career.
Forrest used his 2018 season as a catalyst for a breakout season in 2019. He earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors following a season where he tripled his career interception totals. He had picks against Tulsa, UConn, and Temple, as well as registering career-high single-game tackles against UCF.
Although his production appeared to dip as a senior, the Cincinnati safety still led the defense as a team captain. He contributed two more interceptions — against Houston and UCF — to take his career total to 6 interceptions. Forrest demonstrated his ability to play against some of the best names in college football with a commanding performance against Georgia in the final game of his career. His season-high 9 tackles in that game took him to 200 tackles for his career.
Darrick Forrest’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
During his career at Cincinnati, Forrest has shown athletic ability, coverage skills, and a tough-tackling mentality as a leader of the Bearcats’ secondary. He projects to be scheme versatile in the NFL. He can play in the box, in the slot, or deep. As a result of that versatility — and his special teams’ experience — Forrest’s best fits are essentially any team that needs safety help in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Some teams that have an obvious need at the position include the Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, and Dallas Cowboys.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.