Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson III had a breakout season in 2017. Will he be able to improve on his prominent performance in 2018?
The Cincinnati Bengals had another first-round pick cornerback have a breakout season in 2017. It’s no secret that Cincinnati loves spending first-round picks on the position as they have drafted Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson III all in the first round. All three cornerbacks remain on the team going into the 2018 season and will be the starting players at their positions.
Jackson was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft and spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve after an injury in camp. He split reps with former Bengals cornerback Adam Jones last season until Jones went down with an injury. Jackson exploded onto the scene becoming one of the leagues top lockdown cornerbacks.
It should come as no surprise to Bengals fans now that Jackson broke a school record of 23 pass breakups in 2015 which also led the entire NCAA. Adding another five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, only made him even more desired by NFL teams. Just starting in five games last season with the Bengals, Jackson had one interception and 13 pass breakups. Pro Football Focus said that Jackson might end up being the best 2016 drafted cornerback in the NFL.
Finishing the 2017 season ranking fourth in snaps among defensive backs for Cincinnati last season, he was second in pass deflections on the team. While only coming down with one interception last season against Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in week 3, Jackson said he wants more in 2018. Stating in an interview with Justin Williams of The Athletic that he was hesitant to jump the route in an attempt to pick off the pass in fear of missing. Not in 2018 he said.
“Last year I was kind of hesitant about going and getting the ball. Not this year,” Jackson said. “I want multiple picks — seven or eight.”
Following the 2017 season, Pro Football Focus ranked William Jackson as the seventh best cornerback with an overall grade of 89.2. Even when playing against arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Antonio Brown last season, Jackson allowed zero catches on seven attempts and had four pass deflections. He will have his chance to prove his potential once again this season as he will face off against some very talented receivers like Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill, Demaryius Thomas, Mike Evans, and more.
“I feel like I did good last year, but obviously I wasn’t a starter,” Jackson said. “A lot of people around the world don’t actually know about me over here. They’ll definitely know about me this year.”
Not many fans know about William Jackson outside of the Bengals community, but they will know about him this year he says. Under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, it will be interesting to see what he does with Jackson. Will he have Jackson shadow top receivers or stick to one side of the field? I would love to see him get the opportunity to shadow some of the top receivers in the league this season.