Flip the calendar back to November 2013. The Bulls drop their season ending-game to Bowling Green and complete a 4-8 year under Jeff Quinn. One of the big bright spots was UB’s junior linebacker, Khalil Mack.
Everyone knew Mack was something special; he was already projected to be a day one draft pick, potentially late first. Mack was viewed as a high value player from a small school.
Mack had a lot to consider and his coach, Jeff Quinn, flew down to Fort Pierce to try and convince the phenom to stay in school and finish his degree and college career.
Advised by his coach, and his parents, not to pass up an education, Mack came back to Buffalo, and it was the best decision he could have made.
After throttling the Ohio State offense in UB's opening game he went from “day 1” to “round one” and the rest of his season moved him to the point where he was considered a potential #1 draft pick. He landed at five.
Now, again, UB has a junior getting sniffs from NFL draft publications.
CBS lists Tyree Jackson as the #5 Quarterback in the upcoming draft. With two to four signal callers drafted in the first round most years, Jackson is sneaking in on being a first round draft choice.
CBS finishes their article “He’s a serious, potential first-round quarterback prospect, and he’s 2019 draft eligible.”
He’s right where Mack was, a sure day-one pick who is going to be either really late first or sometime in the second. Hard to pass up when that positioning is probably a 3-5 million dollar contract with a guarantee of around 2-3 million.
Plus, after this season, he’s losing the anchor of his line and Anthony Johnson.
So why stay?
Because more often than not, far more often, quarterbacks who leave for the draft early do not have long NFL careers.
Since the AFL-NFL merger, almost 50 years ago, 20 quarterbacks have been taken with the No. 1 overall pick. Ten of them were seniors and ten were not.
The seniors have combined for a .555 winning percentage, 58 postseason games and 19 Super Bowl appearances. The early entrants have a combined .478 winning percentage, 17 opostseason appearances and only one, Drew Bledsoe, saw the Super Bowl.
In more recent times there has been a few standouts, but for the most part the quarterbacks have had short or nondescript NFL careers.
2006 is a great example...
The third Vince Young. He came out early and was considered a bust, started two years, did poorly, and then was a meh backup for three more before exiting the NFL for Canada.
The next quarterback taken was Matt Leinart at No. 10 and he also busted out after starting for a season and a half, and playing poorly.
Jay Cutler went right after, to Denver, and was traded quite quickly to Chicago. He did better than Young or Leinart, but still had a very luke warm NFL career.
And we can go year by year and see similar results.
In 2007 it was JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. Future seasons saw Sanchez, Freeman, Bradford and others all do nothing in the NFL.
There have been a few diamonds here and there but the picture is pretty clear. If you’re a junior rising star behind center you stand a much better chance of being a staple on Sunday if you wait until your senior season.
So versus questionable results in the NFL, why might Jackson want to charge ahead?
Well, as mentioned above he is losing AJ Johnson, who himself is looking like a first round draft pick. He’s also losing his center.
That’s enough to ask, should he strike while the iron is hot.
Thankfully, for us fans, this season has already shown that while Johnson is a phenomenal receiver there are other options, like junior KJ Osborn. UB also has a stable of young running backs who are getting better by the game.
And the bulk of his line will be back for his senior season.
He could be the quarterback to lead UB to back to back winning seasons for the first time since the 60’s.
And then there is the thing that kept Khalil Mack in Buffalo, a chance to finish his education and finish what he started.
No matter how things play out, Tyree is darn fun to watch, and we wish him health, joy, and wisdom as he goes through this season.