William Jackson III
College Stats: 115 tkl, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 40 passes defensed, 8 interceptions.
A lockdown cornerback at the college level, Jackson was one of the best in the nation during the 2015 season. Jackson made it to Houston via Trinity Valley CC and immediately found a spot in the defensive backfield as a reserve and part time starter. He had solid sophomore and junior seasons before catching national attention for his play in 2015. Jackson saved his best for last in a Peach Bowl win over Florida State, recording 10 tackles and two interceptions on a national stage.
Somehow, Jackson was left off the first team All-AAC list, making the second team for his second straight season. He was named by Phil Steele to the first team All-AAC squad, along with Sports Illustrated's All-Bowl Team. Jackson was invited to the Senior Bowl as well.
The case for Jackson going in the first round:
Jackson has everything you want out of a first round cornerback. He is 6-0, ran a 4.37 40-yard dash, any plays just as fast with pads on. He is the new type of cornerback that has wide receiver length to defend passes. Jackson will go up and get the ball, many times looking more like the intended receiver than the player he is covering.
The Houston native looks incredibly smooth in his movements and has an understanding how to play the game. He is one of the few cornerbacks on the college level with the ability to make in-game adjustments on how he covers receivers depending on how that specific player runs his routes. Jackson is ball hungry and will make lots of huge plays in the passing game. He may be the second best cornerback in the draft behind Jalen Ramsey.
The case against Jackson going in the first round:
Do not expect to see Jackson coming up quickly in run support. He well help when needed, but he does not like to mix it up and tends to allow extra yards before coming up and attempting a tackle. Jackson is too willing to go around blockers in the screen game, something that can result in explosive plays.
Jackson has the habit of taking chances that don't need to be taken in coverage. He will get burnt from time to time because he will try to pick passes off with no room for error. A strong positional coach at the NFL level can help Jackson with being much more selective at taking chances.
His overall physicality has to improve a bit. His overall strength is on the lower scale with only 10 bench press reps at the combine. He will never be that run stopping corner on the edge, but he can get better.
What are others saying about William Jackson III:
NFL.com is so-so about Williams, worrying that it may take some time to break into the starting lineup. They feel that he will be find once he figures out his role, but a year or two may be spot duty. The NFL comparison is to Phillip Gaines of Kansas City.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus puts the ceiling on Jackson as arguably being the best cornerback in the 2016 draft. His combination of size and speed put him in a category above some of the other true cornerbacks. Monson expects Jackson to step in immediately and start from day one for whatever team chooses him.
Where are mock drafts selecting Jackson?
According to the most recent mock drafts available, Jackson has over an 83% chance of getting selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The most likely home for Jackson is at #28 with Kansas City (22.2%), Pittsburgh at #25 (16.7%), Washington at #21 (16.7%), Miami at #13 (16.7%), and Oakland at #14 (11.1%).
My prediction is Jackson becoming a very hot commodity in the days heading up to the draft. He will be in discussion for the second cornerback selected, but will fall into the 20s to a great situation with an excellent club. There is no player in the upcoming draft that improved his stock more than Jackson with many people mentioning him as a mid-round pick before the 2015 season.
With his NFL comparison being Phillip Gaines, I expect the Chiefs to bring in the Houston cornerback with the #28 selection of the first round.