The Bengals entered the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft looking for a wide receiver to compliment A.J. Green. They didn't get that. But they did get a very good player.
Hoping to get one of the top three receivers in the draft -- Baylor's Corey Coleman, TCU's Josh Doctson or Ole Miss's Laquon Treadwell -- the Bengals came up empty in that department. Even Will Fuller, the Notre Dame wide receiver widely regarded as the fourth-best receiver in the draft, was gone by the time the Bengals picked at 24th overall.
Cleveland began the run at wide receiver by trading down from the eighth spot to Tennessee's 15th position and took Coleman, a flyer who should fit nicely into Hue Jackson's rebuilding project in Cleveland.
Houston and Washington flip-flopped positions, with the Texans at the 21st position taking Fuller. Washington, with former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as the Redskins head coach, picked up an extra pick in next year's draft for that trouble and immediately selected the player thought to be the best wide receiver in the draft, Doctson.
With the Vikings waiting to pick and surely shopping for the last, best wide receiver of first-round mettle (Treadwell, whom they selected), it was a dagger to the Bengals' hopes of getting a wide out to replace one of their departed free agents: Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu.
So regrouping, the Bengals selected cornerback William Jackson III from the University of Houston. Here's what nfl.com had to say about Jackson III:
Good height and length. Stays low from a smooth backpedal. Plays with capable makeup speed when receivers get separation. Can click and close on throws in front of him with acceleration and has makeup speed deep. Possesses ball skills that defensive back coaches covet. Gets his head around to find ball on downfield throws and has excellent disruptive timing when attacking the throw. Instinctive and quick to diagnose and react to his keys. Allowed just 40 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed over last two years. Has feel for routes and will adjust coverage accordingly. Had three interceptions and scored two defensive touchdowns this season.
Average play strength and isn't as physical from press coverage as he could be. Might be knocked around by big NFL receivers if he's asked to press. Will get upright when transitioning from backpedal. Shows momentary delay when opening to run which can put him behind in footrace with speedy receivers. Tape shows instance of him getting knocked off balance at the top of the route. Will get hung up on perimeter blocks and isn't aggressive in run support. Too willing to run around block in support against screens. Was flagged seven times for 73 yards.
That web site had Jackson as either a late first or early second-round pick.
Clearly, the Bengals were concerned about the state of their cornerbacks. Dre Kirkpatrick has underperformed since coming to the Bengals as a first-round selection. And, he's entering his contract year.
Their first-round pick in 2014, Darqueze Dennard, missed most of last year with a shoulder injury. And although Adam Jones was the best at that position last season and was rewarded with a new contract, he is one of the oldest starting corners in the NFL.
In drafting Jackson III, the Bengals might also have done a preemptive strike of their own. As late as Wednesday, ESPN was reporting that the Steelers were ready to take Jackson III. Pittsburgh picked immediately after the Bengals and wound up selecting cornerback Artie Burns from the University of Miami
As for Jackson III, here now some of his highlights while at Houston:
Rounds two and three of the NFL Draft will begin Friday night in Chicago. Among the top wide receivers left on the board are Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller from Ohio State, Pharoh Cooper from South Carolina and Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard
But the Bengals will have to wait until the 24th pick in the second round before selecting.