For Skins fans skeptical about Washington selecting a quarterback in round 1 read on.
Welcome back to The Burgundy and Gold Report. The B&G Boots on the Ground Tour with David Hill live tweeting was a great opportunity for readers that follow @TheBandGreport on Twitter to get an up closes scoop on some of the the Senior Bowl prospects. The tour will continue through the 2019 NFL Draft with @dana4bama live tweeting sights and sounds during the three-day event.
The Senior Bowl boasted some viable options at quarterback for Washington. Missouri's Drew Lock, West Virginia’s Will Grier and Duke's Daniel Jones headlined the quarterback group, and all had impressive days, with Jones taking home MVP honors.
After the game’s headlining quarterbacks sat down, in came small school prospect, Tyree Jackson out of Buffalo University. The 6-70 235 lb signal caller combines imposing size, athletic ability and elite arm strength. Jackson went on to earn the Senior Bowl's South team MVP with 165 yards passing 2TD's and 1 int. Although Jackson had an ill-advised interception, he led all quarterbacks in passing yards and showed the upside scouts hoped they would see.
Initially viewed as a mid-late round developmental quarterback prospect, Jackson changed some minds after his Senior Bowl performance. The Buffalo University QB has been on The B&G Report's radar as a potential riser for some time now and his recent performance came as no surprise. Jackson was viewed as a prospect to watch in the pre-Senior Bowl Sneak Peek at the '19 QB Class and Potential Fits in Washington.
Jackson's elongated windup throwing motion concerns some talent evaluators. Most quarterbacks coming from the college ranks have mechanical issues; some can be fixed some not. In Jackson's case, the process of correcting his unorthodox throwing style has been a priority, while working out with former NFL signal caller Jordan Palmer and fellow Senior Bowl quarterback Drew Lock to refine his game and prepare for the combine on 2/26.
One of Jackson's throws during the Senior Bowl stood out from the rest. It was a 1st and goal play in which Jackson hit West Virginia receiver Gary Jennings in stride, on a slant pattern, that resulted in a touchdown. The play demonstrated how accurate Jackson can be when his throwing motion is precise Jackson considers himself a pocket quarterback, but he showed during the 2017 season what he could do with his legs registering 399 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns in only 10 games played. His rushing attempts were dramatically reduced during his final two seasons as Jackson solidified himself as the Bulls signal caller. Bulls offensive coordination Andy Kotelnicki knew he could get the most out of Jackson as a pocket passer if he reduced Jackson’s rushing attempts. The final passing numbers showed the teams dedication to the passing game as Jackson amassed 6999 passing yards 49 TD's with 24 ints during his three-year career (did not play freshman year). He ultimately finished his career with 757 yards rushing & 16 touchdowns displaying his ability as a dual threat quarterback.
Jackson's senior Bowl performance confirmed the strong-armed quarterback has a legit long ball, but can also make plays on the move. Jackson displayed above average pocket awareness when the pressure closed in, but also the poise to continue to go through all his reads. Jackson has rare lateral movement for a man his size with the ability to break tackles. Throwing 50 yards downfield across his body has become a common site from the Buffalo University quarterback. Although he has bouts of inaccuracy, improved technique and pro coaching could have positive long term results.
Next to Drew Lock, Jackson's arm could be the talk of the upcoming NFL Combine. Jackson displays a rare combination of size and ability. Quarterback needy teams surely have elevated him on their big boards.
Per scouts, working on his accuracy, cleaning up his marginal footwork & long delivery throwing motion are the only things holding Jackson back from being a potential NFL starter. Those may sound like big hurdles to overcome, but Jackson has all the tools. As of now, Jackson is considered a developmental prospect with draft projections anywhere from the 4th-6th round. Although Jackson models himself as a pocket passer, the long strider’s adds an element this league hasn't seen before. Jackson could be described as a more athletic version of Daunte Culpepper, with a stronger arm. At nearly 3" taller, Jackson brings imposing pocket presence with the ability to make plays of script. Although Jackson's rush attempts have decreased every season, he finished his career with 757 rushing yards with 16 TD's.
Fit in Washington
Recent changes to the NFL rule book, protecting quarterbacks, have made it possible for developmental quarterbacks, such as Tyree Jackson, to have early success. The pounding NFL quarterbacks have been subjected to has dropped and a player like Jackson could have an impact early on. Jackson’s size will be an asset for him early in his career while breaking down NFL defenses. His ability to make plays with his legs and a competent run game could equal success. Although Washington dealt with injures along the offensive line for the second straight year, they've formed a strong group that showed they can produce a 1000-yard rusher in Peterson. Many believe Colt McCoy will be the Redskins day 1 starting quarterback, but how long he'll last is always the issue with Colt. The vast team needs and available 1st round talent could push QB to the draft’s back burner. In this scenario, Washington could opt to draft BPA with picks in rounds 1-3, but circle back to Buffalo signal caller Jackson in the 4th round, where he should be available. Getting back the 4th rounder they lost should be relatively easy with a trade back or two, which will be in Washington's best interest.
Picking up a mid-round quarterback to develop, while the Alex Smith situation works out, seems like a likely move based on Bruce Allen's history and deep financial obligation to Smith. The question is how long can they show patience? Lock is climbing draft boards so the likelihood of his availability at #15 seems unlikely. Selecting Duke's Daniel Jones/Will Grier in the 2nd round or going with Clayton Thorson, Jarrett Stidham or even Brett Rypien as mid round options seem like the viable optons as well. All have big game experience versus high level competition.
In the Jackson scenario, Washington would gain a mid-round option who has all the tools to be a successful NFL signal caller. Investing a Day 3 pick could still give them the leeway to select an early round quarterback this year or in 2020. This team needs to get younger and a franchise signal caller was needed even after the Alex Smith acquisition. The team needs are vast and selecting a quarterback won't solve the team’s immediate offensive woes.
Building a solid run game is the best way to help the Redskins’ offense in the short term. The reality is Washington should select more weapons on offense with an eye on upgrading speed and offensive line help, especially after the O-line was snake bitten for the second consecutive season. Jackson is an immediate upgrade over McCoy, but would gain a lot from playing behind the veteran for as long as possible. Gruden has shown dedication to RPO, Zone Read packages, as well as trying to incorporate more Play-Action into the passing game. Jackson's arm strength & mobility are a good fit and having an effective run game could change the look of Washington's offense.
After his Senior Bowl performance, Jackson's stock is on the rise and quarterback needy teams could fall in love with his intangibles and of course his elite size. The combine is a huge opportunity for teams to see if Jackson is just a mid-round, developmental project or whether he'll get a shot to run a pro offense.
Jackson demonstrates rare ability to climb the pocket when under pressure and his scrambling ability should be harnessed. His strait line speed won't scare defenses, but his lateral quickness could lead to success. Bringing Jackson down after first contact will not be easy for NFL defenders. Jackson should be available in late stages of round three. Most scouts and analysts project Jackson as a 4th-6th round prospect, but he has the ability to be a better pro than college quarterback. Asking Jackson to throw 30-40 times a game isn't the way to best utilize the Buffalo quarterback's abilities. Having a dual-threat signal caller with a good run game could lead to success for the team that decides to take a shot on Jackson. Although he isn't a finished product, he could thrive in the right system with attention detail and a good run game. It's still early in the evaluation process, but Jackson projects as a prospect to keep an eye on for Washington.