Jordan Palmer has trained quarterbacks Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Sam Darnold of the New York Jets and Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans to prepare for the NFL.
Palmer also makes a point to pair NFL quarterback hopefuls who may not have the same training or the same high profile as players such as Allen, Darnold or Watson. Palmer does this by design. He’s doing it with Tyree Jackson, the former University at Buffalo quarterback.
Jackson is training with QB Summit, Palmer’s private coaching company, in San Clemente, Calif., for the next two months in preparation for his pro day March 13 at UB. Jackson has declared himself eligible for the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound quarterback from Norton Shores, Mich., will participate in the Senior Bowl on Saturday in Mobile, Ala., and a strong showing during practices, workouts and in the showcase game could help Jackson’s draft stock.
Yet as Jackson prepares for the NFL, Palmer aims to do more than have Jackson interview well or run a 40-yard dash to the standards of NFL quarterbacks. Jackson will have to work on his fundamentals and skills in addition to psychologically and schematically preparing for the NFL.
With Palmer, that will involve preparing with other NFL-caliber quarterbacks.
“I like to train one or two of the guys who, I think, really need my help in all the different factions of being a quarterback,” said Palmer, a former UTEP quarterback who spent eight seasons in the NFL and is the younger brother of former NFL star Carson Palmer. “They haven’t been coached enough or they haven’t played a lot, and Tyree has never had a private coach or been part of a private quarterback training program, and he wasn’t in any of the big all-star games or in the Elite 11 quarterback competition.
"These are the type of guys who need my help, and who need exposure to the kind of guys who are high-caliber quarterbacks.”
Jackson, the MAC offensive player of the year in 2018, will train with former Missouri quarterback Drew Lock and former Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham at QB Summit. Palmer also worked with Jackson, Stidham, Darnold and Duke quarterback Daniel Jones in July as Jackson prepared for his final season at UB.
Draftscout.com ranks Lock as the No. 4 quarterback in this year’s draft, Stidham as the No. 6 quarterback and Jackson at No. 11.
Draftwire.com projects Jackson as a third-round pick, going to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 91 in its three-round mock draft, published Jan. 17.
Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl and a former NFL scout, told reporters Monday in Mobile, Ala., that he projected Jackson as a “third-, fourth-round type.”
Jackson originally entered the NCAA transfer portal Dec. 22 after UB’s season ended in a loss to Troy in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Jackson declared for the NFL draft on Jan. 6.
“I want to make the simple things that he does be easier and more consistent for him,” Palmer said of Jackson. “He has the ability to run around and make incredible things happen, but can he go 100 for 100 on throws, and do it with the right mechanics and patterns? That’s a new concept, and it’s something that college coaches don’t have all the time to do, because they’re limited to 20 hours a week with players. And that is not an indictment on the Buffalo coaches, at all.
“But this is the first time he’s had time to do things for two months, consistently. I want to raise his ceiling and his floor, and for what he will be able to do, his ceiling is high.”
Jackson’s challenge in becoming a pro, former college and NFL coach Terry Shea said, is to do something that separates himself from other quarterbacks that are being evaluated by NFL scouts and personnel.
Teams, Shea added, are also looking for a particular fit at quarterback for their offense.
“A guy like Tyree is going to be really scrutinized, and some teams will find reasons not to draft him,” said Shea, a private quarterbacks coach who has trained Matthew Stafford, Blaine Gabbert and Robert Griffin III. “That’s what happens when you’re a mid-round projected player. You have to find what will separate you from the same guys in that grouping.
“Teams will challenge him. How does he throw against superior athletes from the other conferences around the country? They’ll find fault with that. Sometimes they’ll judge a quarterback on the fact that he can’t throw to a lot of speed, and he might be a half count late. Those things are heavily scrutinized, in particular, when you deal with a quarterback you’re not sure about.”
Jackson threw for 3,131 yards and 28 touchdowns on 225 of 407 passing and was intercepted 12 times in 14 games in 2018. In 32 games in three seasons at UB, Jackson completed 533 of 955 passes for 6,999 yards with 49 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
At QB Summit, Palmer will work on physical training and psychological work, as well as learning NFL offenses through the digit and concept systems. The digit system assigns routes for each receiver using numbers, and the concept system looks at formations and locations of players on the field as a whole. Palmer said Darnold and Allen will teach protections to Jackson, Lock and Stidham.
Development, said Donovan Dooley, a private quarterbacks coach and the founder of Michigan-based Quarterback University, will be vital in Jackson's progression as an NFL prospect.
"You can't get frustrated with that process," Dooley said. "Development is so vital. Play-calling, for example. In college, it's one-word play calls. In the NFL, it's eight words. You have to learn all of that. And take advantage of the reps you get. If you're getting a lot of visual reps and very few in practice, every one of those is important, and watch everything the guy getting all those reps does, at practice, before practice, after practice."
Jackson also will have to learn a pro-style offense, and work more under center.
“A lot of what colleges do is scheme-based, and RPO (run-pass option). They do very little RPO in the pros, and timing is everything in the NFL," Dooley said. “Tyree’s strong suit is his arm. The thing I’m curious about now is how the cerebral part develops for him.”
The NFL combine is scheduled for March 1-4 in Indianapolis. Invites for the 2018 NFL Combine were announced Feb. 6, and 336 players were invited.
“I want teams to be able to look at Tyree by the time his pro day rolls around on March 13 and say, ‘Look how much he’s grown from the end of the season to now, and let’s imagine what we can do in training him for the next four to five years,’ ” Palmer said. “He turned his high school program around from being terrible to winning, and he did the exact same thing at Buffalo.
"If he’s made it this far off watching YouTube videos on how to throw, imagine what he will be like if he gets elite-level training.”