Tyree Jackson’s path to the Buffalo Bills
Tyree Jackson knew he wanted to be an NFL quarterback. That’s why he direct messaged quarterback coach Jordan Palmer on Instagram last July to take the next step in his football career.
Jackson went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft but was quickly signed by the Buffalo Bills in the minutes after the seventh round ended. Jackson will now be in a quarterback room with current Bills QB Josh Allen, another client of Palmer. A year ago, Palmer was in Laramie, Wyoming training Allen and this past spring he was in Buffalo with Jackson.
“It’s a small world,” Palmer said on One Bills Live during Jackson’s pro day.
Jackson and Palmer met last July at one of Palmer’s QB summits, the same way he met Allen.
Jackson went out last summer and participated with Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft to the New York Giants and Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round selection of the New England Patriots.
Jackson also trained with New York Jets starting quarterback Sam Darnold.
“When I got to know who Tyree is, that was the first time he had ever been on the field with a private coach,” Palmer said.
Jackson grew up in Norton Shores, Michigan and went to a mostly unknown high school, Mona Shores, leading its football team to the state championship game. He finished his career as top-five in career passing yards, completions and touchdown passes in the state of Michigan.
He lost the state championship at Ford Field in Detroit and three years later he led the Bulls to the Mid-American Conference game in the same stadium.
Jackson completed 18 of 35 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns but Buffalo lost 30-29.
A month later, Jackson played in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. It was the same location of the Reese’s Senior Bowl where he threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns against some of the nation’s best.
This all coming from a kid whose only training as a child came from watching videos of Tom Brady as he tried to learn how to throw.
“The physical side with Tyree was important because he was very raw mechanically,” Palmer said. “He got good coaching at UB for a couple of years, but before that it was YouTube, so we were more or less starting from scratch. So the approach was let’s not worry about the bad habits that you have. Let’s just create new good habits.”
Palmer says he tailored Jackson’s pro day to the way he set up Allen’s last year. Everyone knows they are big-armed quarterbacks so he put emphasis on footwork and short-to-intermediate range passes.
But it would still leave Jackson undrafted.
At the 2019 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, future hall-of-fame wide receiver Steve Smith chastised Jackson for throwing too hard. Analysts like Lance Zierlein wrote that Jackson’s arm accuracy is more “shotgun than rifle” and an “average backup” could be his ceiling.
On ESPN’s NFL Draft Academy, Jackson’s path through the draft was chronicled. And at the end of round seven, Jackson doubted himself.
Jackson questioned if teams wanted him.
This came from a player who’s always known for having a smile on his face.
“He’s loving this. He keeps saying, ‘I never thought I’d be here.’ So he’s very, very appreciative,” Palmer said. “He reminds me of Deshaun Watson who out-smiled everybody in Indy last year. He was legitimately blessed and pleased to be there. Tyree had that same sentiment, which is important for teams to see.”
Teams saw Jackson’s smile and he stole the show at the Combine.
It’s impossible to miss him with his 6-foot-7-inch, 249-pound frame. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash and finished at or near the top of every physical measurement and drill.
“For a small-town guy from a smaller school just exposing him to this lifestyle,” Palmer said. “It was important to send him to the Super Bowl and have cameras in his face and have marketing things running around. That’s going to happen, so let’s do it now and get used to it.”
Nathaniel Mendelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NateMendelson.