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Mild-mannered tackle Drew Forbes brings nasty side to Browns

On the football field, Drew Forbes is nasty.

Off the field, Forbes is not.

His wife, Emily, prefers you think of him as the latter, even if his on-field persona landed him a job in the NFL.

"I do (like being called nasty). My wife doesn't," Forbes said with a chuckle Friday before the start of rookie minicamp in Berea. "She's like 'that's not a compliment.' But yeah, absolutely in football. I really like that, I like that that's kind of seen. That clicked my sophomore year of college, like that's how you're going to be successful is being as physical as you can to the whistle."

If you met Forbes, you'd see why Emily sides with the off-field version of him. He's mild-mannered, looks you in the eye when talking to you and seems genuine. His small-town roots show rather quickly.

But he wouldn't be in the NFL if he was that guy on the field. And for a while, he was that guy -- until he'd reached his tipping point during college.

"I got really frustrated at practice one day," Forbes recalled. "We had some good defensive ends, one's in the NFL currently, Kendall Donnerson, and I was like 'I'm not gonna lose. I refuse to lose right now.' After that, I just got really physical on the field and found success with it. It kind of carried through my senior year."

Forbes found his new nasty and rode it to two successful seasons at Southeast Missouri State, where he gained a reputation for being a finisher. It was something the entire line aimed to be when playing for the Redhawks, and it shows up a lot in Forbes' film, which is filled with contact to -- and sometimes through -- the whistle.

"Maybe it's just an inherent O-lineman trait I think most O-linemen have to have to play the position," Forbes explained. "Once you step on that turf (snaps fingers), you're a changed person."

The Browns liked that aspect of his playing style, which is why they spent a sixth-round pick on the tackle who physically projects more as a guard. He'll begin his NFL career as a tackle, though, and will play the position until it is determined he'd be better suited as an interior lineman.

Take a look at pictures of the 15 players Cleveland signed as undrafted free agents one week after the 2019 NFL Draft.

That time might never come. He lined up in his first rookie minicamp practice Friday as a tackle, and while he was beaten around the edge (in a non-padded session, mind you), he held his own against the other approaches taken by fellow minicamp participants. He said before practice he likes tackle, but he'll play anywhere he's asked to line up.

His aggressive style of play also made him a sleeper but a prospect with potential, enough to be picked as this year's "Prospect X" by Sports Illustrated. The feature looked inside Forbes' road from small-school unknown to NFL draft pick.

"I think it was pretty cool as far as how it kind of showcased what my wife and I had to go through together to get to where we're at now," Forbes said. "It was a team effort, so coming from limited resources at the college I had, she really helped maximize what we could go and we could do in that small town we lived in."

Wherever he lines up, Drew and Emily at least now know where they'll be living for the foreseeable future. While he might be a big, nice guy off the field, he'll flip his internal switch each time he steps on the field wearing brown and orange -- and he'll bring the nasty.