The Bengals' selection of former Houston corner William Jackson III in the first round of the 2016 Draft came as a surprise to many fans, but the team's decision to take a corner in the first round for the third time in five years was a savvy move.
Jackson III was an animal at Houston, picking off five passes and leading all Division 1 players with an NCAA-high 23 pass deflections. Jackson III's 28 total pass defenses led all defensive backs; he was the only player to tally at least two pass defenses per game (he averaged 2.2).
The corner turned even more heads at the NFL combine. Measuring in at 6-feet-tall and burning through the 40 with a 4.37-second time, Jackson III immediately boosted his draft stock to the first round--not that it wasn't there before. Jackson III eventually made his way to Cincinnati after being selected with the 24th overall pick in the Draft, to the chagrin of plenty of Steeler fans.
Jackson's college numbers and game film scream NFL corner, and his measurables certainly don't hurt either.
Age: 23 years old
Weight: 189 pounds
Combine: 40-yard dash: 4.37 seconds; Bench press: 10 reps; Broad jump: 9'8"
As a rookie first-round pick, Jackson is now signed to a four-year deal with an option for a fifth-year if the Bengals so choose. Per Over the Cap, the total value of Jackson's deal is $9,705,648 with an average of $2,426,412 per year. Not too shabby for a 23-year-old.
Stock in 2016
Jackson III has the size and athletic ability to become a longtime NFL starting corner if things go his way. He's a bit raw, which may be why he wasn't taken earlier in the first round, but the good news is that the Bengals have enough depth to let Jackson sit and develop behind Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard if they so choose.
Bengal fans will likely clamor for Jackson III to earn the starting nod as soon as Kirkpatrick or Dennard slip up a single time, but odds are he won't start unless a starter sustains a significant injury. That's not to say Jackson III won't see the field. He's likely the third boundary corner on the depth chart behind Jones and Kirkpatrick, while Josh Shaw backs up Dennard.
Odds of making the roster
The rookie corner is a lock. It would take a serious injury or an extreme circumstance for Jackson III not to end up on the Bengals' 53-man roster, but neither of these scenarios seems anything near likely. Whether he's on the active roster or not is a different question, but even then, it's probably very likely Jackson III is on the active roster throughout the season.