William Jackson was the fourth defensive back selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. How does he compare to those selected before him, and the cornerback taken by the Steelers immediately after he was picked by the Bengals?
Jaguars (#5): Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey has the height (6’1"), and 4.40 speed that teams covet, plus the elite skills and production that warrant a high pick. He also brings versatility, playing both free safety and cornerback. He excelled two years ago as a safety, and last season as a cornerback. While there are no sure things in the draft, Ramsey seems to be the closest thing to one when looking for a defensive back in the 2016 NFL draft. It was an easy choice for him to be drafted fifth overall and he should be a great addition to the Jaguars.
Giants (#10): Eli Apple
The Richard Sherman effect has changed the fortunes of many young cornerbacks, placing perhaps too much of an emphasis on height. Apple is the tallest of the better cornerbacks in the draft this year. While not considered to be as good as Hargreaves or Jackson, Apple is a good cover corner who allowed only 44.6 percent of passes to be completed, and less than three completions per game.
Buccaneers (#11): Vernon Hargreaves III
In 2014, Hargreaves was a total stud. He allowed only 222 yards and a single touchdown (Amari Cooper) all season. In 2015 he was solid, but not as spectacular. He still only allowed one touchdown, but was burned for much more yardage. If the Buccaneers get the 2014 Hargreaves, they have found a great shutdown cornerback. If they get the 2015 Hargreaves, they ended up with a decent corner who can be an NFL starter.
Bengals (#24): William Jackson III
Jackson is viewed by many as perhaps the second best defensive back in the NFL draft, and potentially the best cornerback, if Ramsey plays safety for the Jaguars. He has good height and sub 4.40 speed which teams crave, but more importantly, he has great game tape. His ball skills are top-notch, intercepting five passes this season. And, he led the NCAA in pass breakups. Ultimately, the Bengals got their speed burner at pick #24, but instead of Will Fuller at receiver, they got a cornerback with great hands.
Steelers (#25): Artie Burns
The 17th rated cornerback in the draft per Pro Football Focus’ rankings, it’s hard not to imagine the Steelers panicked a little when Will Jackson disappeared before their eyes with the previous selection. It’s somewhat surprising they opted for Burns over Mackensie Alexander, who is viewed as a better corner, and led the NCAA with a 33 percent completion percentage allowed. Burns has good ball skills and had a solid combine. He has some good tape, and is a solid prospect, although being selected as one of the 25 top players in the entire draft seems a little rich for his level of talent. The pick seems more need-based than value-based, and likely was dictated by the release of Cortez Allen.
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