INDIANAPOLIS – It’s not exaggeration to say Saturday will be one of the most important days in Tyree Jackson’s career.
The University at Buffalo quarterback will take the field inside Lucas Oil Stadium to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine. It’s Jackson’s first, and biggest, opportunity to show the improvement he’s made in the last six weeks, which he’s spent in California working with private quarterbacks coach Jordan Palmer.
“Just continue to prove that I’m a great player and that I’m ready to play in the NFL,” Jackson said Friday. “For me, it’s all about competing, so I’m going to do every single drill. I’m going to throw. I’m going to do it all. I’m just a competitor, and I want to show that.”
Jackson’s primary focus over the last month and a half with Palmer has been on “cleaning up” his lower-body mechanics.
“To be 6-foot-7, I move around really well. I’m a really good athlete, so to be this tall, it doesn’t affect me as far as being slow or sluggish,” he said. “I feel really good right now. I’m really excited to go out there and spin it. I’ve been cleaning up a lot of things, and I feel good. We’ve been putting in some real work with Jordan Palmer, and I feel like it’s going to show tomorrow.”
It will be interesting to see what an impressive performance Saturday could mean for Jackson’s draft stock. He’s one of the more polarizing prospects in this year’s class, projected by some to be drafted as high as the second or third round and by others to fall to the late rounds on day three.
“I don’t pay any attention to that,” he said. “I don’t spend time looking at mock drafts or rankings or anything like that. I just focus on my day to day, meeting with teams – controlling what I can control. Come the draft, when I know where I’m going, I’ll be excited for that.
"Right now, I'm just focused on the day-to-day process. If you look down to the draft right now, you're going to miss what's in front of you. Right now I have a great opportunity to go out there and showcase my abilities on a national stage at the combine, so that's all I'm looking forward to right now."
Jackson measured 6-7 and 249 pounds this week. His hands measured 10 2/8 inches, his arms 34 2/8 inches and his wingspan 83 6/8 inches. All of those were tops among the 17 quarterbacks here.
Jackson’s physical attributes have led to him being compared to a familiar quarterback from last year’s class – Josh Allen.
“Josh is a great player, and to be compared to him is definitely awesome,” Jackson said. “He had a great rookie year and did some really good things at Wyoming as well. … For me, I’m just focused on the day to day of getting better, trying to improve my game as much as possible.”
Jackson, in fact, has been working out with Allen and New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in California under Palmer’s direction.
“They’ve done a really good job of showing us what they went through, how their process went in their rookie year,” Jackson said. “They’ve given us a lot of great advice, so it was really awesome to work with those guys.”
The biggest concern about Jackson’s game is his accuracy and readiness for the pro game. There are some who believe he should have stayed in school for his redshirt senior season. He can make the “wow” play, but can he make the right one?
“For me, I just want to continue to show consistency,” he said. “Going through my progressions and showing that I know the game. Getting on the board and drawing up plays, drawing up protections – I love doing those things. Those don’t show up on highlight tapes, but that’s what I enjoy most.”
Jackson played in 14 games for UB in 2018, completing 55.3 percent of his passes for 3,131 yards, 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, adding 161 yards and seven touchdowns as a rusher. A lot of that production came with wide receiver Anthony Johnson, who is joining Jackson here this week – the first time UB has had two players at the combine in the same year in program history.
“He’s an amazing leader,” Johnson said of Jackson. “He makes everyone around him better. He always brings the young guys in and calms them down. I’d love to have him as a teammate at the next level.”