- For Drew Forbes, our mystery draft sleeper from last spring, Browns training camp has been full of rookie homework, dress rehearsals, and a nickname that isn’t going anywhere.
BEREA, Ohio — Drew Forbes calls his wife Emily once a day from Browns training camp, usually at night when practice and meetings are done. They usually catch up on the day’s practice or discuss Luna, their Australian Shepherd mix—regular couple discussions. But in the last week, their daily phone calls have become dress rehearsals.
“Arf arf,” Drew barks into his phone.
“X gon give it to ya
F--- wait for you to get it on your own
X gon deliver to ya”
One day during training camp the rookie offensive lineman will be called on to rap in front of the entire team. It’s a beloved Browns rookie ritual, and Drew, the sleeper prospect who we profiled in our “Prospect X” series last spring, was assigned the song “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” by DMX. The nickname has stuck.
“I am not going to get myself in trouble with the O-line room, but X lives on in the O-line room,” Browns offensive line coach James Campen says, cryptically.
After an extremely warm practice Monday morning, Drew elaborated on Campen’s ambiguity: The O-line room assigned Forbes a series of X-themed PowerPoint presentations to present, like a fourth grader delivering a book report. He chose five topics to educate his O-line teammates on:
Xzibit (the rapper)
D-Generation X (the pro wrestling group)
X-Men (specifically, Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-Men)
Drew applied the same intense focus he has for football to his X-themed presentations. “He was overly prepared,” Campen says.
“The longest presentation was 10 slides,” says Drew. “A lot of Wikipedia and Googling.”
Because he doesn’t know which day the veterans will call on him to perform the DMX rap, Drew calls Emily each night to help him memorize his lines and get the sporadic rhythm and timing down. The perfectionist in Drew never rests, even off the field.
So far in Browns camp, Forbes has taken reps with the second, third and fourth string, at left tackle and right guard. Campen says it’s too early to settle on a specific position for Forbes, and they want him to be versatile so he can backup multiple spots on the line. The Browns have a position battle for starting right guard, but Forbes isn’t in the mix for a starting role as of now. At left tackle, Forbes’s college position and his dream role in the NFL, the Browns hope Greg Robinson’s serviceable play down the stretch in 2018 was not a fluke. The former No. 2 overall pick, discarded by the Rams and the Lions previously, had a rough day against Myles Garrett in Monday’s practice.
For Forbes, the most surprising thing about the NFL is how much fun this Browns team has while putting in work. “I hear a lot of people talking about camp from other teams and how much of a drag it is,” Forbes says. “But I'm loving this. I thought it was going to be—I don't want to say hell, but I am really having fun getting to play football.”
And for the record, Prospect X is no longer starstruck by Baker Mayfield. “It’s normal now,” he says. “It’s just work.”
• Question or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.