Green and Jackson haven’t gone head-to-head much during Bengals camp, but their few matchups have mostly ended in Green just barely besting Jackson.
William Jackson III has been one of the biggest talking points of the offseason for the Bengals, and he has backed it up in camp. Moving forward, the hope is that he can shut down elite wide receivers all across the league. Jackson has already done a great job on guys like Antonio Brown last season. If he can consistently lock up receivers like that in 2018, he will definitely put himself in the upper echelon of cornerbacks.
However, Jackson has gotten a challenge from someone within the Bengals: AJ Green. Although Jackson has covered just about all the Bengals’ receivers so far, he has only struggled with Green. It is receivers like Green that Jackson will hopefully stay glued to next season, so getting reps against one of the best certainly helps.
Unfortunately, Green is one of the best technicians in the NFL, and his athleticism gives him a really well-rounded package. He has been a tough matchup for any corner in his eight years on the Bengals, so the fact that Jackson is struggling with him is no surprise.
In the two plays from Bengals camp that I have seen Green best Jackson, it has been Green’s technical prowess that has given him the advantage. Jackson, both times, reads the route well and is in good position. Unfortunately, he just can’t contain Green.
On the first route, Green runs a simple buttonhook, and uses his body to “box out” Jackson. Green gets Jackson on his left hip with an early jab step, although Jackson sticks right with him. Green uses just two steps to slow, plant, and turn around, pivoting to the right to keep Jackson away from the ball. Jackson is in ok position, but he can’t get to the ball without interfering. Green catches the easy pass for a chunk gain.
On the second route, Green runs a wheel route along the sideline. Jackson, again, sticks right with him, but has his back turned to the quarterback. Although the video cuts out from Green and Jackson, they seem like they’re running neck and neck. Green realizes when the ball is in the air before Jackson, though, and jabs to the right, getting in front of Jackson and securing the long gain again. In Jackson’s defense, the Bengals were in 11-on-11, so there should have been more safety help.
Overall, the Bengals should be thrilled with Jackson’s performance so far. Even if he’s not locking down AJ Green every play, he has been showing he can be a number one corner. Expect Jackson to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke and that he can cover just about anyone in the league.