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The Obvious Selling Point For Washington's Free Agent DBs


Those were the maulers William Jackson III would play behind if he signed with the Washington Football Team, not to mention proven interior pass rushers Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle.

"The D-line is crazy," Jackson told senior vice president of media and content Julie Donaldson. "There's no way you could be a free agent and pass that up."

Washington's first-round defensive front hounded opposing quarterbacks last season, and it's reaping the benefits of its dominance this offseason. Jackson, the No. 1 cornerback available according to Pro Football Focus, signed with the team a few days into free agency. Veteran nickelback Darryl Roberts followed a week later.

Talk about a selling point.

"When we were making the decision it was very easy because of the front that we have," Jackson told local media during his introductory press conference. "The defense is already very good. I'm just a piece to make it better."

A former first-rounder himself, Jackson has the skillset to take one of the NFL's best units to new heights. His 6-foot, nearly 200-pound frame and 4.37 speed allows him to cover top receivers, which he did plenty of during his time with the Cincinnati Bengals. And for those who knock Jackson for corralling just three interceptions in 59 games, he suggests watching the game film.

"I wasn't getting thrown at a whole lot," Jackson said. "I wasn't the guy that was getting picked on. ...I was a guy that's going to get the job done. When you're covering guys up, you don't get many picks."

Jackson, 28, "most definitely" views himself as a lockdown corner and plans on "keeping that reputation up" in Washington. That's good, because head coach Ron Rivera expects him to shut down his side of the field, giving the defense even more flexibility when it comes to its schemes, blitzes and overall strategy.

"He, I think, is really a tremendous corner who really has the skillset to say: 'Hey, we want to put him on our best guy. We want to put him over here and roll away from him'" Rivera said. "He's a very good man corner. When he plays with his eyes in zone, he creates opportunities for himself. This is a dynamic football player. We're very, very happy to have him."

Jackson views himself as a "press corner," preferring to be physical with pass-catchers at the line of scrimmage, but that does not mean he dislikes zone or struggles with it. Cincinnati played mostly zone, Jackson said, and he still broke up at least 11 passes in three of his four fully healthy seasons.

Jackson said he and his new coaches have yet to discuss the specifics of his role, but regardless, he'll now be part of a group that ranked second in total defense and fourth in points allowed in 2020. The Bengals never finished better than 16th in either category during his time there.

"It's just a blessing to have that front," said Jackson, who plans on "locking dudes up" regardless of coverage. "We've got a lot of great guys up front. The quarterback's not going to be able to hold the ball."

Roberts has been in the NFL since 2015, and he admits to playing with some decent defensive linemen over his career. But he views Washington as having a "great pass rush" that will force opposing signal-callers to get rid of the ball quickly. That will create more opportunities for a secondary that also includes three-time Pro Bowler Landon Collins, proven corner Kendall Fuller and scintillating sophomore Kam Curl.

Roberts described the defensive backs room as confident, highly competitive and "very, very consistent," which combined with a fearsome front should yield more success under coordinator Jack Del Rio. There is also a good chance the team will add even more pieces, whether that be in the latter waves of free agency or via the draft.

Like Jackson said, who wouldn't want to be a part of this defense?

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