What the Bills liked about Tyree Jackson and how he fits in

The former UB quarterback will begin his pro career with the Bills

Sal Capaccio
April 30, 2019 - 11:55 am

When Tyree Jackson went undrafted last weekend, it was pretty surprising to a lot of people. Many believed the University at Buffalo quarterback would be chosen somewhere in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft. Seven rounds went by, 254 selections, and Jackson’s name wasn’t called.

That’s when Bills general manager Brandon Beane and his staff made their phone call to Jackson. They had a draftable grade on the 6' 7" quarterback, and offered him a free agent contract to join the Bills and compete for a roster spot.

“I truly thought he would be drafted,” Beane said immediately following the three-day draft, but noting that nothing was official yet and that Jackson still had to pass a physical. “He was on our draft board to be drafted. I'm surprised. You saw his name still sitting there late in the seventh, and you start going, ‘Man, if this kid doesn't get drafted, we're going to have to go after him.’ And we did.”

Jackson is a lot like Bills starter Josh Allen in many respects. They’re both taller, big quarterbacks. Allen is 6’ 5” and 237-pounds, while Jackson is 6’ 7” and 249 pounds. For their sizes, they’re both very fast. Allen ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2018, which was third-fastest for his position group. Jackson ran a 4.59, which was the second-fastest. They both went to non-power-conference schools with Allen going to Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference, Jackson to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference. Finally, they’re both known to have rocket arms with questions about accuracy.  

All of that will help the Bills integrate Jackson into their offense a lot quicker than if they had a polar-opposite-type of signal-caller as the starter. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll won’t have to change much, if anything at all, when Jackson is getting some reps during OTAs, minicamps, or training camp. One of the team’s other two quarterbacks, veteran Derek Anderson, is 6’ 6”, also has a big arm and there were questions about accuracy when he entered the league in 2005. So the Bills essentially have three quarterbacks who are extremely similar in size and traits. They also have Matt Barkley, who at 6’ 2” is the shortest of the group - by quite a bit, but between Allen, Anderson, and Jackson, the Bills probably have the tallest quarterback room in the league right now.

That height isn’t the only thing that drew Beane to Jackson, but it certainly stood out. The Bills’ general manager actually got a chance to watch the quarterback up-close-and-personal twice during the pre-draft process. The first was at Jackson’s UB Pro Day. The second was just a couple weeks later at the Bills’ local Pro Day, where they get to bring in either native Western New Yorkers or local college prospects and watch them work out. Both were at the ADPRO Sports Training Center right at One Bills Drive, just downstairs from Beane's office.

“The first thing you look at is the size,” Beane said about Jackson. “I think he's shown improvement and played at the Senior Bowl, it wasn't too big for him. I think he's still an ascending player. I know he's worked on some mechanics with Jordan Palmer. I talked to Jordan for a while here at his pro day. It was just asking him some of the things he was working with him on, I don't want to go into all of it. He thought he was heading in the right direction. Josh has been around him out there. I asked Josh about him when I saw him. Really likes him, I think Josh even let him stay at his house for a little bit of time when he was here. It will be a natural fit. It's exciting for Sean [McDermott] and I. We really love the UB program and what they're doing. It's cool even though we didn't draft one to be able to bring him here.”

There’s no doubt Allen is the starter for the Bills in 2019. Anderson and Barkley will begin the battle for the No. 2 role, but there’s no telling where that could end. Jackson will get his chances, and the first one will be when he gets to run the Bills offense during the team’s rookie minicamp, starting Friday, May 10, and running through that weekend.

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