Ready To Make The Leap: William Jackson III
The attractive statistics – Interceptions, forced fumbles and passes defensed often define cornerbacks. However, such a simplistic judgement can cause a misevaluation of talent and personnel. Stats that go beyond these parameters indicate William Jackson is primed for a break out in 2018.
The Bengals first round selection in 2016 missed his entire rookie campaign after suffering a torn pectoral. Last year, his first season saw him record one interception, one fumble recovery and 13 passes defensed, which on the surface appear at best, mediocre.
However, it's the advanced metrics where Jackson shone in 2017.
Pro Football Focus ranked Jackson the eighth best corner in the league, impressive for a first-year player.
Jackson allowed an astoundingly low 36.1 passer rating when targeted by opposing QB's, beating out heavyweights like Xavier Rhodes and Jalen Ramsey. His ability to break up passes and disrupt routes is central to Jackson's game, a necessity for any elite corner.
Jackson has the physical attributes of all the top corners. He has the size (6ft), and the speed (4.37 40yd), enabling Jackson to run with the entire receiver spectrum found within the AFC North, from the twitchy Antonio Brown of the Steelers to the bigger bodied receivers like Josh Gordon of the Browns.
In January, the Bengals welcomed the addition of Teryl Austin as the teams' new Defensive Coordinator.
Austin, previously with the Detroit Lions, was integral in the development of crucial secondary players such as Darius Slay and Glover Quin. Slay was named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press last year and began to receive the media attention his play warranted. Austin's secondary background and corner friendly play design will help Jackson flourish in 2018.
Jackson showed encouraging signs last year and had all the physical tools to take his game to the next level. The addition of Austin, a highly regarded secondary coach will facilitate Jackson's continued growth and allow for the corner to become a household name as an elite secondary playmaker.