Cornerback wasn't viewed as a big need for the Cincinnati Bengals in this year's NFL Draft, but William Jackson III was too good to pass on.
The 24th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jackson was the first player selected by the Bengals in this year's draft. The former Houston Cougars cornerback was regarded as one of the top corners in a draft lacking depth there in the latter rounds. Beyond Florida State's Jalen Ramsey, this position was lacking both elite talent and depth.
However, Jackson was ranked by many as a top-20 prospect, making value a perfect fit for where the Bengals Drafted him.
CBS Sports had him ranked 19th overall. ESPN Scouts Inc. had Jackson coming in at 22nd overall and Sports Illustrated had Jackson ranked 22nd in their SI 50 series.
NFL.com gave Jackson the lowest ranking of any major service, pegging him as the 43rd-best prospect. ESPN's Todd McShay ranked him 22nd overall, while Mel Kiper tabbed Jackson as his 25th-best prospect. SB Nation's Mocking the Draft ranked him 26th overall.
Pro Football Focus was very high on Jackson throughout the draft process, writing that Jackson may end up being this draft's best corner. As for their rankings, PFF had Jackson as the 15th-best prospect and the second-best corner behind only Jalen Ramsey who was ranked third overall.
If you average out all of these, Jackson had an average ranking of 24.3. And if you subtract his lowest ranking (NFL.com in this case), Jackson's ranking jumps up to 21.6. If you take away his highest ranking (PFF in this case), his ranking only drops to 25.8.
Needless to say, that one low ranking was enough to knock Jackson down a few notches, but his best ranking didn't change the overall outlook.
Over at coldomaha.com, Arif Hasan (also of Daily Norseman) collected over 40 draft boards and combined them to showcase how players were ranked overall. His ranking had Jackson coming in as the 24th-best prospect. Again, this shows Jackson's value was perfectly in line with where he was picked.
For the most part, this all reinforces the belief that taking Jackson here was a good strategy by Cincinnati. Though this position wasn't expected to be addressed this early, Jackson is a solid corner who can help upgrade the Bengals' secondary with Leon Hall gone.
You can also make a good case for corner being a big position of need now with Darqueze Dennard coming off shoulder surgery, Hall remaining an unsigned free agent, and Dre Kirkpatrick not having a great first year as a full-time starter while also having his own injury concerns.
But one thing consistently echoed with Jackson is that, while he's a very good prospect with a ton of upside, he may not be someone whose true value is seen until after a year or two of development in the NFL. That's also been how the Bengals bring up their corners, so don't expect to see Jackson playing on defense a lot as a rookie, but learning from the many first round cornerbacks already on the Bengals' roster.