If you haven’t been caught in the William Jackson hype tornado yet, I’m not sure where you’ve been hiding.
One of the biggest causes of all the excitement surrounding Jackson has been his biggest advocate: Pro Football Focus. The analytic based website has really been touting Jackson’s performance during 2017 as one of the best they’ve seen, especially from such a young player.
This article written by Mark Chichester of PFF in particular does a great job of rounding up all the analytic stats that show just how good Jackson has been. He allowed the lowest catch percentage (34.9 percent) of any corner with a minimum of 40 targets since 2006. He also recorded the third lowest yards per cover snap (0.38 yards) since 2006 as well. Jackson has heard all about this offseason.
“I try not to (look at PFF), but a lot of fans send it to me,” Jackson told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “It’s a great thing to get noticed. A lot of players probably don’t get noticed here for whatever reason it is. It’s good to get noticed around the league.”
It seems that Jackson is keeping a level head concerning all the publicity surrounding him. More importantly, Jackson doesn’t want his success to plateau after just one season. Despite his productive rookie year, he didn’t get the recognition at the time to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl, which is an achievement he says he’s striving for in year two.
“[The Pro Bowl is] definitely a goal. Just go out there and perfect the plays that come my way and I’ll be all right,” Jackson said.
The Pro Bowl is typically a clear indication that a player has reached near the top of his position in the NFL; well, at least for the first few players selected. In recent seasons we have seen an abundance of players opt out of partaking in the game, causing it to be a little less prestigious.
The distinction of making the Pro Bowl obviously means a little more to younger players who are trying to prove they belong in the NFL. It also wouldn’t look bad during negotiations after that rookie contract is up.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Jackson included in the list of Pro Bowl cornerbacks next season. One reason for that is how much more aggressive he will get to be on defense. He can already see how much more of an attacking defense defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has brought to Cincinnati.
“Most definitely,” Jackson said. “He wants to go get the ball. You can’t want more out of a coach that really wants you to go get the ball.”
If Jackson is in position to make a few more plays on the ball, that will do wonders for him getting the votes necessary to be recognized as one of the best in the league already. Of course his matchups with Antonio Brown again next season could do that all by itself.
Last season, he broke up four passes intended for Brown without allowing a single reception. Even if he only holds Brown to a few catches this season, that would still be incredibly impressive.
Of course, the top reason Jackson could end up celebrating with the best in football is his confidence. Jackson simply told Hobson “Put it in the books, we’re going [to the Pro Bowl].”