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What it will take for William Jackson III to see significant playing time in 2016

The Bengals don't typically give much playing time to rookies, but could William Jackson III break that trend?

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Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

By most accounts, William Jackson III is an incredibly talented cornerback with the tools to find plenty of success at the NFL level. There are some who seem to think that he will be a disappointment, but they tend to be analysts who don't really understand how the Bengals work.

One of the Bengals' more common tactics with rookies is to sit them during their rookie year and give them a chance to learn behind veterans. That should be the expectation of most Bengals fans for this year, so it should be pretty hard for Jackson to disappoint in 2016.

But, there is the possibility that he could exceed expectations and make an immediate impact, as Pro Football Focus projected him to do in their list of 20 players new to their team who will make an immediate impact in 2016. It could be very tough for Jackson to find a role early in a typically rigid Bengals roster, but PFF does make a few good points.

7. William Jackson III, CB, Bengals

How he got here: 2016 NFL draft (Round 1, pick No. 24 overall, Houston)

The opportunities for Dre Kirkpatrick to start in Cincinnati had been limited up to the 2015 season, perhaps partly because of what the coaches saw in practice. As a full-time starter, he ranked 103rd overall at the position (in terms of grade). He was seventh from the bottom in tackling efficiency, missing 16-of-71 attempted in 2015; William Jackson missed only five-of-52 in college a year ago. The former Houston Cougar's physicality and exceptional coverage skills make him a good candidate for immediate success.

The main argument against Jackson finding playing time in 2016, other than the fact that it's not what the Bengals normally do, is that the position is already stacked. Then again, with Darqueze Dennard coming off of a major injury and Dre Kirkpatrick struggling to find consistency, there might be room for the rookie to find some action next to Adam Jones.

For Jackson to find playing time in 2016, it will probably require the coaches not seeing much improvement from Kirkpatrick in training camp and Dennard not being physically ready to start at the beginning of the season. If Jackson can really make an impression on the coaches in training camp, practice, and in the preseason, there definitely is a chance he could find starting time on the field early on in the season.

Once Jackson manages to find early playing time, the fact that he has the kind of talent to make an immediate impact will be crucial. If he can show the Bengals that he can lock down portions of some of the best receiver corps in the NFL such as that of the New York Jets (Week 1) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 2), that will show the coaching staff that they have no choice but to play him early and often.

Unfortunately, the fact that the Bengals are going up against pass-heavy teams early on in the season could also overwhelm the rookie and show the coaching staff that he needs more time to sit and learn before they fully throw him out into the fire. It's hard to tell exactly what will happen without having much of any on-field action to gauge how ready he is.

Then again, he's already impressed various members of the Bengals so far. Adam Jones recently explained he thinks Jackson was the best cornerback in the draft, and Marvin Lewis raved about the rookie after day one of the Bengals' rookie mini-camp.

However, one of the most important votes of confidence is the one that he has in himself. He's already shown his eagerness to prove the Bengals were right to pick him in the first round. He's managed to back that goal up by making a positive impression on various members of the team and coaching staff in the few early chances he's had on the practice field. If he keeps this up, there is a good chance he could find more playing time in his rookie season than the recent first round corners (Kirkpatrick, Dennard) and make an immediate impact in 2016.