How did the Bengals fare with their selection of William Jackson III in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft? We're rounding up a collection of draft grades to determine the value the Bengals received in selecting their third first round cornerback in the last five years.
SB Nation's Dan Kadar sees this as an above average pick for the Bengals.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - William Jackson III, CB, Houston
The Bengals cold have reached on a wide receiver here, but wisely went another direction. With Jackson, they get a playmaking outside cornerback who can push 32-year-old Adam Jones for a starting job. It's just a bonus that the Bengals grabbed him in front of division rival Pittsburgh.
NFL.com Draft analyst Chad Reuter believes Jackson is a good player, but that the pick doesn't address a need for Cincinnati. Clearly, he doesn't know too much about the Bengals' draft philosophy. Or, maybe he didn't realize the top four wide receivers were already selected by pick No. 24 and the Bengals didn't want to reach for the next best receiver who wasn't worthy of a Round 1 pick. What grade would Reuter have given them then?
Draft pick: William Jackson III (No. 24 overall)
Day 1 grade: C
The skinny: I've been high on Jackson for a long time, so the pick could be good. But picking yet another cornerback in the first round is leaving other areas of the team bereft of talent.
Pro Football Focus may be the highest on Jackson of any media outlet.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: William Jackson III | Grade: A
An excellent pick by the Bengals, we may be talking about William Jackson as the best pure cornerback in the draft a few years from now. He's intriguing because his +17.3 coverage grade ranked second in the nation, but he still has room to improve his technique both in press coverage and in zone. Throw in his 6-foot frame, sub-4.4 speed and excellent movement skills and Jackson has all of the tools to improve on his already-impressive production. Jackson flashes the downfield ball skills to become a playmaker in both a man or zone scheme and the Bengals may have gotten one of the steals of the draft.
Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar has one negative thing to say along with a bunch of positives. It's unclear why he didn't give the Bengals an A, but, I'll settle for the B.
24. CINCINNATI BENGALS
With most of the top receivers off the board, the Bengals turn to another need and draft Jackson, a natural press boundary cornerback with the tools and skills to stand up to the fastest and most physical receivers in the league over time. Last season, he put up 34 solo tackles, five interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and 23 pass deflections to lead the nation in that category. He's a do-it-all player at a key position, though he'll have to get more efficient with his feet to avoid getting turned completely around by more savvy NFL receivers.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, who often has nice things to say about Cincinnati, didn't disappoint with his short but sweet grade for the Bengals' 24th selection:
Bengals select: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Love this pick for the Bengals. He is a playmaker. They love drafting corners.
Yahoo's Eric Edholm didn't get his facts exactly straight on the Bengals, stating they've drafted three cornerbacks in the first round of the last four drafts, when it's actually the last five drafts. But, he did say the pick is a good value for Cincinnati, which I'd certainly agree with.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: CB William Jackson III - The Bengals have invested a lot in their secondary - that's three first-rounders at the position in four years - but also lost a starting safety in the offseason. Depth is important, and the long-limbed playmaker Jackson is an interesting study who broke out last season by leading the NCAA in passes defended and was a star in the bowl game win against Florida State. It's a good value pick, and the Bengals show great patience in drafting for need a year in advance for the second straight year. Grade: B
Bleacher Report's Mike Tainer was another analyst who graded the Bengals' pick highly.
William Jackson III is a natural 6-footer with 4.37 speed who throws his body around. The Houston Cougars used him as a blocker for punt returns at times, and he would chase the gunner back to the returner, nail him at the last second, get up and continue hunting for defenders to hit. What's not to love?
Not much. Jackson plays the ball well, and while he is not incredibly polished in coverage, he can run with most receivers and reacts quickly in zone coverage. Jackson will whiff on some open-field tackles (see Florida State) and isn't a bone-crusher in run support. He also draws a lot of clutch-and-grab fouls at a level where the refs allow much clutching and grabbing.
But combine Jackson's size and speed with effort and instincts, and Cincinnati Bengals coaches will happily work on applying the polish. Jackson is both a talent influx for a defense that is starting to age out and a potential impact player for a team that is perpetually one player away.
I'd say averaging all of these picks and thoughts, the Bengals' selection of Jackson is a solid B+, if not an A. What do you think?