The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t given us too much to talk about this season, overall. We haven’t even had the usual odd comments from Marvin Lewis or the ridiculous antics of Vontaze Burfict to discuss. This is a newer, more boring Bengals team spearheaded by Sean McVay Lite himself, Zac Taylor. And his team did well enough to earn the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, so…congrats?
Meanwhile, the team’s top cornerback, William Jackson III, recently went under the knife to repair a shoulder injury suffered toward the end of the season. For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Jackson is best known as the guy they supposedly wanted to draft instead of Artie Burns in the first round in 2016, but Cincinnati got him one pick earlier.
After spending all of his rookie season on the Reserve/Injured List, Jackson came in and competed at a high level in 2017 and 2018. This past season has been a bit of a mess for everybody, and he did miss time with injury. He finished the year with just 26 tackles and one interception, and, amazingly, just three passes defensed. He has 27 over the course of the previous two seasons combined. For a starting cornerback who plays most of the season to manage just three passes defensed…that’s hard to reckon, quite frankly.
Pro Football Focus was not overly favorable to him, grading out the second-lowest among six cornerbacks on the team who played 100 or more snaps. He was credited with giving up 39 receptions on 64 targets for 570 yards for three touchdowns and one interception, with 188 yards after the catch allowed, and a quarterback rating allowed of nearly 100.
Having completed the standard portion of his base contract, Jackson is slated to play under his fifth-year option in 2020. Meanwhile, he is expected to be sidelined for the next four to five months, so it’s reasonable to expect that he may be limited or unavailable to the team until training camp.
Cincinnati’s top three cornerbacks remain their three most recent first-round picks at the position, including Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard. Kirkpatrick was limited to just nine games this past season due to injury, which resulted in B.W. Webb being called upon to play a big role. You might recall seeing him get burned playing against the Steelers.