2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Houston CB William Jackson III

As you should know by now, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have interest in.

Back to the secondary with a profile of an increasingly popular cornerback. Houston’s William Jackson III.

#3 William Jackson III/CB Houston: 6’2 195

The Good

– NFL size and appears to have length teams are trending towards and coveting
– Shows ability to transition out of his pedal, a powerful “T” step that lets him explode out and close on the football underneath
– Plays the pocket well and uses length and strong hands to break the ball up at catch points
– Aggressive, attacking player who is willing and able to come up and support the run, isn’t a liability on crack/replace responsibilities to be the force or alley defender
– Big hitter with an attitude
– Plus ball skills and the ability to find and track the ball while maintaining speed
– Productive on the big stage
– Strong senior season, tons of production

The Bad

– Despite willingness to play the run, can be too reckless of a tackler who doesn’t wrap up, and misses more often than you’d like
– Predictably tight hipped like a lot of tall corners, pops up when flipping and turning
– Stiff in change of direction and could struggle in some man to man coverage underneath
– Aggressive to a fault and will take chances, vulnerable to getting burned
– Appeared to get most of his work as the boundary corner, not field
– Has to clean up technique at the line of scrimmage, maintain his leverage and do a better job funneling and re-routing receivers

Bio

– Two-year full-time starter, 28 total
– 2015: 23 pass deflections, 5 INTs
– Career: 40 pass deflections, 8 INTs
– Spent three years with the Cougar, transferred from JUCO for the start of the 2013 season
– 2015 Peach Bowl MVP, two interceptions in win over Florida State
– Dealing with knee injury suffered in bowl game, missed Senior Bowl because of it

Tape Breakdown

Jackson has been getting a ton of buzz in amateur circles with some even anointing him as their top corner in this year’s talented class. There’s a lot to like. He’s big, long, physical, and has ball skills. At the base level, he has all the traits you’re looking for in a cornerback.

Like any corner coming into this scheme, they have to embrace the run and be willing tacklers. I would’ve liked to see him finish the tackler a little better here, take him to the ground, but he comes up to support the run on the edge as the safety gets cracked by the receiver.

He’ll do similar in coverage, coming up to put a lick on the receiver right after the catch.

He made huge plays in the bowl game against Florida State, picking off two passes in the Cougars’ victory.  This play does show his faults, looking in the backfield and allowing a ton of separation, but it also highlights his ability to track the ball while maintaining speed, high-pointing the ball, and picking it off.

Like a lot of tall cornerbacks, one big concern with Jackson is stiff and could struggle in man coverage. Here the Cougars are in 2 Man with their cornerbacks playing trail technique underneath. Man coverage, take away anything short and intermediate. Jackson, at the top of the screen, is late reacting to the receiver’s dig route, and doesn’t take it away and the pass is completed.

We again see Jackson’s stiffness showing up on tape, getting juked out of his jock by this Florida State receiver.

On 3rd and 2, Jackson is guessing for something quick and short. Bites on the double-move and gives up a big play over the top.

Mentally, he can be fixed. He can be more attentive to film, take fewer, or at least, more calculated chances. That’s not a dealbreaker. But his stiffness could be. You might intuitively view him as a man corner: playmaker, long, physical, but that stiffness is really going to hurt him. There are plenty of corners that have had tools but that inability to change directions – something you’re doing on almost every play – is difficult to ignore. Not everyone is going to turn into Richard Sherman. Some go the way of Stanley Jean-Baptise.

A zone, Cover 3 scheme is probably more beneficial to his skillset. The ability to play downhill, play the pocket, and be physical will highlight his strengths and mask the lateral change of direction problems he shows on tape. That would make him a fit for someone like Pittsburgh but if they aren’t committed to taking a corner within the first two rounds, there’s no chance of grabbing Jackson.

Projection: Mid 2nd Round

Games Watched: vs Pittsburgh (2014 bowl), at Tulane, vs Florida St (Bowl)

Previous Player Profiles
Hunter HenryEli AppleLaquon TreadwellDadi NicolasKendall Fuller
Deion JonesJihad WardKevin PetersonVonn BellMichael Caputo
Andrew BillingsMackensie AlexanderTyler ErvinAustin BlytheChris Jones
Sheldon RankinsNoah SpenceJordan JenkinsYannick NgakoueDarian Thompson
Bryce WilliamsCre’von LeblancHenry Krieger-CobleLeonard FloydJosh Garnett
Kevin HoganCorey ColemanShaq LawsonAustin JohnsonDeAndre Houston-Carson

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • CuldesacBill

    Very intriguing prospect for the Steelers. Now that they might be drafting a TE in the first couple of rounds, I’m not sure if the will take a CB this high. Have to wait to see which of their CB’s they re-sign.

  • James Cowan

    We’d have to take this guy at 25 because he’ll be gone at 58. Unless we trade back of course.

  • PittsburghSports

    Everyone on twitter has a hard-on for this guy. I don’t get it. Looks like a tall, stiff CB that has trouble in man coverage. He’s physical, but he hits with his shoulder and doesn’t wrap like an injured Blake. He’s an off coverage CB. Mid-Late 2nd rd is fair, but I think he’ll struggle if not in the right scheme. Never gonna be a shut down CB, but like you said in a Cover-3 he’ll never need to be.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yeah the buzz is really strong on him. Guessing it dies down soon like it has for so many other prospects.

  • PittsburghSports

    Well, like you said, he’s a Pittsburgh CB, which means draft him in rds 3-5.

  • LucasY59

    Another guy to consider in the 2nd, does seem like a guy that the Steelers will seriously look at.

  • Big Joe

    I’m not worried about him not being there at 58. If he’s there and they like him, great. If not, there are other CBs I like more for our overall scheme fit.

  • Big Joe

    I agree. He’s a limited fit in our multi-coverage scheme and is stiff. Not too terribly concerned about his availability at 58 or beyond. No way I’d take him in Rd 1.

  • GoSteelerz

    I really like him. He has his warts, but in the right scheme, and if he has the right mentality to take in good coaching and get better, I think he can be really good. I don’t know if any CB is a first rounder to me, seems CB’s are very unpredictable in general, but Jackson III is high on my list. Definitely needs to play with better fundamentals and a more level headed anticipation. If we even go after a CB in the draft, I doubt we’d pick one early enough to have a shot at this guy. I’m kinda hoping we go after Harlan Miller… Although his stock is rising too it seems…

  • Ma Masing

    he looks like he could be a steal as you said but its hard to predict

  • thomas hmmmm

    Of all the corners previewed so far he looks the best. He definitely looks better than Eli Apple… He looks good on the quick out and ins.. With the way he hits I wonder if he might not be better at Safety than corner..

  • GoSteelerz

    He’s definitely willing, and he does pack a punch, but he needs to be much more consistent with technique and not diving at feet. If he is coachable on this, and on some other things, he has a very high ceiling. He’s one of the prospects I really like. I’ll be curious to see where he goes…

  • vasteeler

    No no no, this guy is extremely stiff and guesses far too much, his technique screams multiple concussions and shoulder injuries at the next level, even in his biggest game at fsu he was routinely burned against nfl caliber wr’s and would not have gotten mvp if the qb had not severely underthrown open targets. Please do not reach for this guy…I do wonder if he could transition to safety though

  • Xclewsive

    I concur!!! If the Steelers can somehow land William Jackson III and Karl Joseph in the draft the Steelers secondary at least moving forward will be much improved. IMO

  • Darth Blount 47

    The buzz on this guy has definitely NOT died down. Some have him going as high as 12th overall now. I really hoped he would be there for us at 25, but I’m starting to prepare myself for the disappointment. I’m not as in love with him though as some others in the past, so I just hope for real quality this year at 25/58. But I do think with the right coaching, this kid could be very, very good.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Tavon Young is better than WJIII

  • Darth Blount 47

    Yeah, well, that’s just like… your opinion, man.