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Andy Dalton and Darqueze Dennard use same phrase to describe William Jackson, “a special talent”

Jackson continues to draw praise from coaches and teammates alike during offseason practices. The Bengals hope he breaks out in 2018 after showing flashes of dominance last season.

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

William Jackson quietly had one of the best seasons among cornerbacks in the NFL in 2017. He did not get the playing time he deserved due to the Bengals starting Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick on the boundary whenever they were both healthy. When he did manage to make his way onto the field, he was the best cornerback in the game.

According to, (Jackson) allowed a passer rating of just 36.1 when targeted; lower than if the quarterback had just thrown the ball away every snap instead. He allowed just over a third of passes thrown his way to be caught (34.9 percent).

PFF ranked Jackson as the 42nd best played in the league in their top 50 players for 2018 — one spot below breakout star A.J. Bouye (who is the only player to have allow a lower passer rating last year) and eight spots ahead of A.J. Green.

“I think a lot of people forget I was even over here,” Jackson said, via Geoff Hobson. “A lot of people forgot about me.”

The former first round pick missed his rookie campaign due to injury, and has been fighting his way back to what the Bengals saw when they drafted him.

He started the season sharing playing time with Darqueze Dennard while Adam Jones served a one-game suspension. Jackson’s first standout play came in the Bengals’ Week 3 matchup in Green Bay when Jackson picked off Aaron Rodgers and took the ball 75 yards to the house. Though it was his only turnover of the year, it might have been the most impressive takeaway from the Bengals all season, since it was only the second pick-six of Rodgers’ historic career.

“I’m trying to think about making more of those plays,” Jackson said. “I’m hoping to get some good matchups this season.”

Teryl Austin would like to see more of those plays as well. The new defensive coordinator has been preaching turnovers ever since he arrived in Cincinnati, while cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones is helping become more of a ball-hawk. Jones’ coaching “makes the game easier” according to Jackson. He has been very helpful with coaching Jackson on the little things, like “being on top of routes; underneath routes. Knowing when to get underneath the ball, jump and get a pick. Being in the right position.”

Jackson may have had his best game of the season against the Steelers in October. Antonio Brown was targeted four times while covered by Jackson, resulting in four incomplete passes. Jackson will get the opportunity to play Brown two times this year, along with other new division rivals such as Jarvis Landry and Michael Crabtree.

He is also relishing the opportunity to play some impressive NFC South Pro Bowlers this year.

“Going against Julio [Jones] would be a real fun task,” Jackson said of the Atlanta Falcons receiver. “He’s a great player. Just a bigger body. [Saints receiver] Michael Thomas is one of my guys. I worked out with him getting ready for the combine and we’ve kept up a relationship. That will be fun. May the best man win.”

Jackson’s biggest asset might be the confidence he has in himself. He said that even though people may have forgotten about him, “They’ll notice me this year.

He doesn’t doubt that he can be the best corner in the NFL this year.

His teammates are also confident his break-out ability. Andy Dalton, who has had to throw against Jackson during practice, says he is “a special talent.”

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence this year,” said Dalton. “He’s really fast. Look at the numbers. He was at the top of the league last year and you can see it out there in practice. He’s a smart guy. He’s got all the talent you want. And he can run... He can really get the ball out of your hands. He had a ton of PBUs. And he’s not a small guy.”

Reports from practice have been overwhelmingly glowing on Jackson and if his practice is any indication of his actual play, then he is in for a standout season. Not to mention, the Green vs Jackson battles this summer should be incredibly fun to watch.

Dennard keeps heaping the praise on as well, claiming that Jackson could very easily be a Pro Bowler when all is said and done.

“I could definitely see that. He’s that that type of talent,” said Dennard. “If he puts it together, he’ll definitely have a shot.

“A lot of players in this league can’t do the things he does. That speed and the way he moves and plays the ball. The ceiling for him is as high as he wants. He’s probably one of the most talented guys I’ve seen anywhere … He’s a special talent.”

Head coach Marvin Lewis has seen plenty of positives out of Jackson, too. Lewis has seen his fair share of good corners in his day and he didn’t want to make comparisons, though he still did. Hopefully he also realizes Jackson is in full position of the top cornerback role on the team.

“We’ve had some good players here,” Lewis said. “He’ll be there with Leon [Hall] and Johnathan [Joseph], guys that have been here before [Jackson] and guys we already have. I’m not going to make comparisons. He’s the one that has to play down after down after down... [He is] kind of a combination of those good players that have come through here before him and you have to feel good about that.”