William Jackson III ranked among the NFL's top cornerbacks in man coverage

Bengals cornerback William Jackson III was ranked among the NFL's top cornerbacks in man coverage

It's a big year for Bengals cornerback William Jackson III. The former first round pick showed plenty of promise in 2017, but his play has dropped off in each of the past two seasons. 

Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He has the talent to be a top cornerback in the NFL, but he struggled last season. 

Pro Football Focus gave him a 53.6 grade for his performance. He allowed 39 receptions on 67 targets in 2019. 

The 27-year-old has a chance to redeem himself this season. He'll have two new starters by his side, as the Bengals signed Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander in free agency. Jackson should benefit from having an improved supporting cast around him. 

Despite his struggles, he was still ranked among the best man-to-man cornerbacks in the league by Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire. Jackson was ninth on the list. 

"Not much went right for Cincinnati’s bottom-feeding defense in 2019, but Jackson was a rare standout in a positive sense," Farrar wrote. "Though he struggled with injuries in the second half of the season, an outstanding boundary cornerback who was negatively affected at times by some perplexing safety “help” looks, Jackson seemed more comfortable when he could just erase his target on his own. Last season, Jackson did allow one touchdown in man coverage (which the Bengals used on just 33% of their snaps), but aside from that, he gave up just 10 catches on 28 targets for 159 yards, and a Positive Play Rate of 32.1% — good for fourth-best in the league."

New additions on defense and a second year in Lou Anarumo's system gives Jackson a real shot of having a bounce back season.