News Conference Transripts
NFL Draft Round 1
Initial comments ...
"We're really excited to be able to select William Jackson. He fits us as a guy who we really feel can come right away and make the 46-man roster on Sundays. He can contribute defensively as a young player. He's got excellent athletic skills, speed, length and a lot of great qualities to be a great player in the National Football League. His ability to play the football in the air, to play around receivers and not be cumbersome around receivers, is just excellent. We really felt like he had great skills, so we really had a high value with him."
You've been here before with first-round corners. Is it something where you just can't have enough?
"They're needed, and they play. We know they play valuable snaps every week, week in and week out. We've got to continue to develop them and see. Sometimes they're just not the right player, but we feel like he fits what we do defensively."
Was it his ability to play press and man-to-man coverage, or was it just all of it?
"I think all of it really that you could identity watching him when he was at Houston. You could identify all of those skills. Now he'll have to get refined to play the NFL game, because you've got to have those superior skills to play here."
A lot of corners have a hard time adjusting from the college rules to the NFL ...
"And that's why his athleticism and speed and his foot quickness are exceptional for us. We've obviously drafted guys in the first round at corner. And this guy would be on the level of some of the best athleticism with those players we've had here."
What were your thoughts when the wide receivers went off the board before you?
"The other teams got players they felt like would be productive in the league, but that's the way the draft works. There were a lot of players that went before us that we wouldn't mind having, but we got one of the ones we really wanted. So we felt good about that. Some guys went after number 10 that helped us get to William. So it was good."
Defensive backs coach
The guy ran a 4.37 at the NFL Combine. Was that the first thing that got your attention?
Guenther: "Yeah, this guy was one the fastest guys at the combine. He's obviously a taller corner, which we like. There are a lot of traits in corners that we look for. The more we did the background on this guy and the more we watched him on tape, the more and more impressed we became with the guy. He came in here for a visit. We had a really good visit with the kid and just to see if he would be able to pick up our defense fairly quickly, and he proved that to us. I think this guy, when you look at the corners in the draft, has the highest upside of all of them really, just with his abilities and his talents. They really didn't give him a lot of help there at Houston. It was really man-to-man the whole time he was out there. The safeties played low in the box. So he told me that's how he likes to play. As soon as he said that, I said, 'You'd fit for us.'"
Is there any similarity between Jackson and Sean Smith of the Miami Dolphins?
Coyle: "A little bit, but a little different traits. Will has exceptional speed. He's really, really fast. One of the things that impressed us was his ability to track the ball, as well as his speed. He's not just a fast guy that can run and beat people down the field. He gets his hands on a ton of balls. I think he's got the acceleration, he can makes plays that some guys just can't get to. Each year you go into it and you target certain guys, and we felt evaluating him and he really had a great visit when he came. We spent a lot of time with him, talked a lot of football and just got to get a feel for him as a young man. He convinced us early during his visit that he was the type of guy that if we were fortunate enough to bring him here, we'd really feel like he was a great scheme fit for us. So we're excited about it."
When did he visit?
Coyle: "Two weeks ago. Most of those guys, I couldn't give you the exact date, but we felt really good after he came in. We put him on the board and we went through things and tried to give him some of the more complex things and see if he can figure it out. He did a good job of it. He'll be like a lot of young guys, it's going to take some time to put the whole thing together. But from a skill-set standpoint, from having traits that we really like in the corner position, he's got all those things."
It looks like he finished the season really strong. Was that a factor?
Guenther: "We don't just watch the end of the year, we watch pretty much every game on these guys. Like Kevin alluded to, he's got a lot of ball production. He led the NCAA in pass breakups. He had five interceptions. You can see, that's one of the hardest things for a young corner is to play the ball in the air, and this guy does it naturally. He trusts his speed, so he'll bump and press a guy. Obviously when he comes in here, he's going to have to do it how we do it here and I think he'll come along pretty fast."
When did he first pop on tape for you?
Guenther: "For us, the first exposure of these guys is at the combine. So we're just getting done with the season and we're just starting to watch the tape and you see this guy's running a 4.37 at the combine, 4.35. I don't want to short him of two tenths of a second, so a 4.35. So the first thing I ask of the coaches when we get back, 'So we don't lose track of them, who are the guys that impress you at the combine?' The first day we get back in the office here, so I wrote those guys down. William was one of those guys. So we started watching him on the tape and did a little more background on him, had him in here for a visit. We did the whole process for this guy. So we feel really comfortable with the pick."
Marvin said he can contribute early. Is he the type of player that can challenge Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick early?
Guenther: "Just like any young player, whether we draft a linebacker or safety or corner, their first role is going to be a backup player until they learn our system. They have to have a role on special teams. And obviously with this guy's speed, he's going to add some value to special teams right away, of course. But as things go on, he's going to have to learn that he's going to have to earn his way here, just like everybody else does as young players. Time will tell as we go on through this thing, and hopefully the competition in the (defensive back) room and that's always a good thing."
This pick brings you back up to four first-round corners. That seems like the kind of depth you're looking for on the back end ...
Guenther: "We've always said that we draft cover guys and rushers. That's really important. That's always been our philosophy. This fits along those lines. As we went through the draft, we really just followed our board as we had it, and this guy was right there for us to take him. It was really a non-discussion. We're excited to have him."
It sounds like Pittsburgh wanted to take him. Does it feel good taking a guy a rival may have wanted?
Guenther: "(Laughs) I'm not sure what their draft board looks like. I only worry about ours."
Coyle: "You mentioned the amount of deflections he had. He really started for two and a half years. He went to junior college for a season. Really, he had qualified out of high school. There was some confusion about that when he was leaving high school, so he went to a JC (junior college). He only had to stay there for a year and then went right to Houston. By halfway through what would amount to his true freshman year, he was starting.
"He told me the story that the first game he started was against Louisville and (quarterback) Teddy Bridgewater. So we went back three years ago and watched every game he's played in and started. After seeing the athlete, which Coach Guenther alluded to, you see a guy running around in gym shorts, and they look really good and you get excited about the times. But then you go back and really start to study the tape and see, at this position, if the guy has certain qualities that can make him unique. After we did that, we felt he was in that type of category of guys."
That was after you saw him play Bridgewater on tape?
Coyle: "That was the first game that he started. He told me that on his trip here. When he left, while somebody was driving him to the airport, we got right on the film and started really doing some more research. We already liked him, and we liked him more after that."
What about his run support? There were questions about whether he was strong enough and whether he can get more physical ...
Coyle: "He's going to get stronger, he's going to get more physical. It's an area he's going to have to improve in. I don't think it's an area he's deficient in, like a lot of guys coming out of college these days. We'll make that a point of emphasis. We talked about it during his visit, we watched tape of it during his visit and I think he's going to be very willing to do whatever we ask of him that way."
Guenther: "That was one of the knocks on him. If that's the worst thing a corner does — come up and be physical in the run game — we'll take that, because our corners are going to tackle here. They're going to find out quickly that we count on them in the run game. We'll put him in the chicken coop for a couple days, and he'll learn how to do it (laughs). We need him to cover."
What did you see out of him in that Louisville game?
Coyle: "Just a young player that stepped right in and competed at a really high level. That was just the start. His production got better and better every year. When I say that he had 45 pass deflections — that's what he's credited with, however they keep these stats these days — but that's more than double most of the guys. If a guy is in the high teens or around 20, these are the top guys in the country that you're evaluating. To have 45 is off the charts. We all felt that way, that ball production was key. Sometimes you say, 'Gee, you wish he intercepted all of those balls.' But we talked about it, and Bill Tobin mentioned it — he studied him very intently — he gets to balls that other guys can't get their hands on. He deflects balls because he can't catch it but he has the speed to get to make plays on those types of throws. We've got a really good prospect to work with."
Was there a conversation about taking Myles Jack?
Guenther: "He was part of the process, just like we do everything. We follow the draft board as we see it. We felt more comfortable at this point going with Willie, so that's what we did."
How tough is that in general judging talented guys with injuries like that, and weighing the value on the risk?
Guenther: "Our job as coaches is to grade the players for what they are. We have fine doctors here that will make those calls on whether they're guys we can take, or their risk or non-risk. Our job as coaches is to evaluate the players, put them up there how we see them and rank them. As a defensive staff, everyone grades their position, and we'll all get in a room on April 1 and go for about two and a half or three weeks. We'll compare. Kevin (Coyle) might have a first-round corner and (defensive live) coach (Jacob) Burney might have a first-round defensive end. Well, which guy is better for us? So we rank all those players. We put them up there without knowing the medical initially, and then they (the medical staff) will tell us as we go if it's a guy we want to go with or not. That's basically what we do."
What kind of special teams experience does he have?
Coyle: "He was a punt gunner, a hold-up guy on the punt returns, he's been a kickoff safety — with that type of speed. There will be roles he certainly can contribute in right away."
WILLIAM JACKSON III
Did you have any idea the Bengals were interested in you?
"I really didn't. I had met with the DB coach and we got along well, so I knew there was a possibility, but I had no idea."
What do you think your biggest asset is? Is it your ball skills?
"Yes sir. My ball skills, as well as my reach and my speed. I feel like I can do a lot for the organization."
Are you excited to be in a room with so many talented corners?
"Of course. I can learn a lot from Adam Jones, just being around him and seeing what he did to stay in the league. Hopefully I can stay in the league a while as well."
What has today been like for you?
"Its been a roller coaster. Just sitting around waiting on the calls, and for it to finally come in is truly a blessing. I was overwhelmed."
Why did you opt to stay home rather than going to Chicago?
"I wanted to be around my family, people that loved me and helped me get to this point. I wanted to celebrate with them."
When did you start to think that the first round was possible?
"It really still hasn't hit me. I was blessed to be in this position. I didn't know if I would go first round or not, so I was hesitant about having the draft party. But it worked out well, and I'm excited."
What do you know about Cincinnati's defense?
"I know a lot about them. I watched films when I came on my visit. I watched one-on-ones, I watched practice. I have a great feel for what kind of scheme it is, and I'm ready to just come in and work."
Do you prefer William or Willie?
"I have a lot of nicknames. (Laughs.) It doesn't matter to me."
Do you have a preference?
"Will would be great. (Laughs.)"
Who are your all time favorite corners?
"I like Patrick Peterson a lot. I want to go in and be dominant."
How much special teams experience do you have?
"I did a little of it. I wasn't the starter gunner because there were some younger guys they wanted to get on the field. It shouldn't be hard; all I have to do is go out there and make plays."
What do you remember about your first start, vs. Teddy Bridgewater?
"I was ready to play, amped up. I was a younger guy playing against a big talent. I was so ready. I had a great game, and managed to stay on the field after that."
Why were you so motivated to let the staff know about that game?
"I knew he was going to be a first-round guy, and I wanted to show the world that I could play against big talent. I wanted to show that I could play with the best."
What do you think your weaknesses are, and how are you working to shore them up?
"I have to say, my flexibility. I work at it a lot, and will probably get into yoga to get my hips looser."
Did you think the Steelers (drafting 25th) were coming for you?
"Yeah, I definitely did. I had dinner with them, and we had great chemistry. We talked about a lot of things, so I thought it was coming. But I'm happy to be a Cincinnati Bengal."
So you spent more time with Pittsburgh than Cincinnati?
"I definitely did. So it took me by surprise. I was not expecting it."
Were you surprised it was Cincinnati?
"Yeah, hey definitely surprised me. I was sitting on the couch and wasn't even looking at my phone. For me to get that ring, I was so excited."
Did you think it was Pittsburgh calling?
"No, I knew Cincinnati was calling. I was so excited to get that phone call."
Was Coach Lewis the first person on the line?
"Yeah. He's a great guy. I'm ready to get to work and to show everybody what I can do."
At what point did you think that it could be you in the first round?
"In the 20 range. That was when I started sitting down and really watching it, to see where I was going to fall."
Was playing in the NFL a lifelong dream for you, or did it come later?
"This is a lifelong dream. I've been playing this game since I was in elementary school, and for me to finally make it to this day is such a blessing."
What made you choose Houston after junior college?
"Houston chose me. I had a lot of big offers."
Do you think the Peach Bowl game against Florida State helped your exposure?
"It helped me a lot. It showed the world I can play against great talent. For me to go out there and prove myself and have a big game, I feel like it helped me a lot."
You ran a 4.37 40 at the combine?
"Yes sir. a 4.37. That was just working hard. I feel like I could always run, but the NFL projections had me at 4.6, and I wanted to prove people wrong, so I went out there and did what I had to do."
Is that the fastest you've run?
"No, I ran a 4.29 in junior college."
To what do you attribute all of your breakups in college?
"It's just watching a lot of film, and knowing what is going to come before it happens. I was watching a lot of film and nine times out of 10 I knew what was going to happen, so it was always there for me to make the play."
Is route recognition a big deal for you?
"Yes its a big deal. I love to watch film, and I'm big on always getting better. I watch film all the time, and I want to pick up routes quickly."
There were rumors you were going to declare last year. Why did you come back?
"They weren't true. I woke up one morning and had a lot of tweets on my phone. I never thought about coming out. I don't know where that came from. I decided to stay to do all that I could do at Houston."