Bengals Secure Secondary With William Jackson III

William Jackson III is where he’s supposed to be. The Cincinnati Bengals went to their bag of tricks and surprised the draftniks. After weeks of speculation and drama, Bengals brass selected Jackson in the first round of the NFL draft. Thursday night’s selection had been rumored to be all about offense. With the departure of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, Notre Dame’s Will Fuller was supposed to be a perfect fit. Once again, the Bengals war room threw fans and analysts a sinking slider.

As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sauntered to the podium, Bengals fans didn’t know what to expect. After Houston had snatched Fuller earlier, there was no telling who the most logical pick would be. At the end of those preliminary magical words, Cincinnati had welcomed another cornerback. If you listen carefully to the audio, you can hear what sounds like a Bengals fan screaming in agony.

The pick may have seemed like a last-ditch effort to save face, but it was a stroke of genius. By grabbing Jackson, Bengals brass effectively gave a middle finger to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Going into the draft, the Steelers were poised to take a defensive back in the first round. The need was obvious. According to ESPN, the Steelers ranked No. 30 against the pass.

Bengals Secure
[Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images]
What does that have to do with the Bengals? The answer lies within the AFC North. The rivalry is intense. If the Bengals had been able to acquire the services of Fuller, the Steelers were going to grab a cornerback. The speedy Jackson was one of the best athletes available. He also fit their need for help in the secondary. Cincinnati picked at No. 24 and Pittsburgh followed at the 25th spot. If you understand the Bengals-Steelers hatred, no other explanation is necessary.

The Bengals have been licking their chops for a while. When Jackson visited Paul Brown Stadium, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was impressed. He talked to the University of Houston grad about the defensive scheme used at Houston. Guenther pressed Jackson about the lack of help he received in coverage. According to the Cincinnati Bengals, the young man oozed confidence.

“Just tell me which dude you want me to cover and I’ll cover him.”

With his sub 4.40 speed, Jackson will be covering players like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. His addition wasn’t just to take the best available player. He was a coordinated pick to help the Bengals remain champions of the AFC North. Jackson is a true talent. He’s able to track the ball and become the receiver. He has excellent recovery speed and won’t panic when he looks to be beaten.

There’s no need to rush him into the mix, but Dre Kirkpatrick is poised to become a free agent. Jackson has the attention of the Bengals’ coaches.

Bengals Secure
[Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images]
“We’ve always said that we draft cover guys and rushers. That’s really important. That’s always been our philosophy. This fits along those lines,” Guenther said.

“As we went through the draft, we really just followed our board as we had it, and this guy was right there for us to take him. It was really a non-discussion.”

The Bengals aren’t trying to please the pundits. They’re trying to get past the first-round playoff losses. Defense still wins championships. That was proven by the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Both teams made it to Super Bowl L with spectacular defensive units.

Bengals brass has started a trend. Since 2006, Jackson is their fifth first-round corner. They also surprised Jackson. He was set to become a Pittsburgh Steeler.

“I had dinner with them and we had great chemistry,” Jackson said. “We talked about a lot of things, so I thought it was coming. But I’m happy to be a Cincinnati Bengal.”

The Bengals are definitely overjoyed after snatching him from the Steelers.

{Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images]