2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: William Jackson III
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: It seems that every year in the draft process there is a cornerback who has a steady rise into the first round after the end of the college football season. This year, Jackson would be the candidate for that as his stellar combine performance helped send a jolt into his draft stock.
Jackson was a steady contributor for Houston over the past three seasons. As a sophomore, he had one pick, 35 tackles and seven passes batted. Jackson improved as a junior with two interceptions, 37 tackles, and 10 passes broken up. In 2015, Jackson played really well for Houston and displayed some ball skills. He had 43 tackles, five interceptions and 23 passes broken up on the year, but missed some games late in the regular season with an injury. Jackson came back with an impressive performance against Florida State in Houston's bowl win, but the injuries robbed him of playing in the Senior Bowl.
At the combine, Jackson had an electric workout with a stellar 4.37-second time in the 40-yard dash. He also did well in the field drills. Sources have said that Jackson didn't catch the ball that well at his pro-day workout, but overall, he has had a tremendous draft season to help put his draft stock on the map.
For the NFL, Jackson has the height, length, and physicality to be a press-man corner. He can jam receivers at the line and run with them downfield. Jackson has the speed to maintain coverage and is very good at playing the ball. He is a dangerous corner to throw at because he is adept at tracking the ball, making the deflection, and taking it away for the interception. Jackson flies around the field and has some impressive instincts. He would be a good fit as a press-man corner in the Seattle Seahawks' style of corner and scheme.
However, Jackson has some flaws to his game. He is a bit stiff, and that shows up with him being shaky in off-man coverage. Jackson would be better playing press-man or zone. The other big issue is a lack of discipline. Jackson is a gambler who is looking to jump routes to create turnovers. That sets him up for double moves, and his lack of eye discipline could lead to major coverage busts in the NFL. Because of these problems, some teams have low grades on Jackson.
Around the NFL, Jackson is a love/hate prospect. Teams expect him to go in the late first or early second round, but there are teams that don't like him at all. One general manager of a playoff team that has been very good at scouting and developing cornerbacks said they had a fifth-round grade on Jackson prior to the combine. Another team picking early on that is in the market for cornerback help said they have Jackson as a late second-rounder. In speaking to two other teams, they say that of the first-round cornerback prospects, Jackson has the highest bust potential in their estimation. Still, with his skill set, ball skills, senior-year production and great combine workout, Jackson has a great shot of going in Round 1.
Player Comparison: Sean Smith. There are some similarities between Jackson and Smith. They both have a mix of size, ball skills and coverage ability. Early on in his career, Smith was prone to taking some risks that caused him to give up some plays, but he has become more disciplined. Smith (6-3, 218) is a good cornerback, and Jackson could turn into that in the NFL. The Dolphins drafted Smith out of Utah in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Jackson is likely to be a late first-round or early second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa Bay, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Washington
There are three options for Jackson to land in the state of Florida. The Jaguars' secondary was scorched throughout 2015, and they need to upgrade their cornerbacks. Prince Amukamara only signed a short contract, and Jacksonville could consider Jackson in the second round.
The Dolphins need a defensive back to replace Brent Grimes and give them a lead corner. He makes sense for Miami in the second round, or if the team trades down again in the first round. The Bucs need to upgrade their secondary, both at corners and safety. Tampa Bay could have a lot of turnover at corner after the 2016 season, and the team could develop Jackson for a year before replacing Grimes, Alterraun Verner or Johnthan Banks. Jackson could be in play for the Bucs in Round 2.
Staying in the NFC South, the Saints allowed a ridiculous amount of touchdown passes last season and could use more cornerback help. The Bears are also in the position of needing an upgrade at corner. Chicago could use a starter to pair with Kyle Fuller.
The Colts and Redskins need help at cornerback. In the back half of the first round, he would make sense for Indianapolis or Washington. The Redskins have to replace DeAngelo Hall. The Colts, for their part, need a corner to pair with Vontae Davis. Journeyman Patrick Robinson isn't a real solution.
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