Lamar Jackson won't be the first quarterback taken when the NFL Draft begins on Thursday. He likely won't be second, third or fourth, either.
But by the time the first round comes to an end and 32 picks have been announced, the expectation is that Jackson's name will be called. Before his career is over, Jackson has a chance to stake his claim in NFL lore if he lives up to his potential.
And in case the record needed to be made clear, his career will live and die as a quarterback, this notation coming after multiple teams at the NFL Scouting Combine reportedly asked him to work out at wide receiver.
“Whoever invites me at quarterback, that’s where I’m going,” Jackson told reporters recently. “That’s strictly my position … I’m not going to be a wide receiver at all. I’m a quarterback.”
The 21-year-old Pompano Beach native, Boynton Beach High alumnus and Heisman Trophy winner would expect nothing less.
Jackson put up prolific numbers during his three-year stint at Louisville. In 38 career games, Jackson completed 57 percent of his pass attempts for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns, compared to just 27 interceptions. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016 after throwing for 3,543 and 30 touchdowns and rushing for an additional 1,571 yards with another 21 touchdowns.
Jackson is just the second player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw for 9,000 yards and rush for another 4,000, and the only one to do so in just three years.
ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit ranked Jackson as the most explosive player in this draft class.
"To say Jackson is explosive isn't just to say he has exceptional speed and quickness when he decides to take off with the ball," Herbstreit wrote. "He's just explosive in all his actions, period — and that starts with an explosive arm."
That last bit is just as important. While it's easy to remark on the electrifying plays Jackson made with his feet in his three seasons at Louisville, it shouldn't be understated that he had 11 career 300-yard passing games. Nine of them came against the ACC. In two career starts against a top-10 Clemson defense, Jackson racked up 612 passing yards, 226 rushing yards and six total touchdowns.
“To me, he is the best player that you’re ever going to see,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said during the season, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Jackson will have the chance to make that case in due time.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has Jackson ranked as the 15th overall prospect in the class on his final big board, which was updated Tuesday.
"I wouldn't be shocked if a team that really likes him trades up for him in the 20s," Kiper wrote. "He has improved his delivery and put on good weight, and no one can deny his athletic ability. ... Still, Jackson is the most raw of the top quarterback prospects in this class, and teams will have to be patient with him. If a smart offensive coordinator builds his offense around Jackson's strengths, though, the former Heisman Trophy winner could be a star."
He will be one of 22 players on site in Arlington, Texas, to hear commissioner Roger Goodell call out his name.
And if the draft analysts and experts are right, Jackson won't have to wait past Thursday.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a conference call last week that while he's unsure if Jackson will make an immediate impact as a rookie depending on what team drafts him, it would only a matter of time before he makes his presence known in the NFL.
"Long term," Mayock said, "I can't wait to see what Lamar Jackson becomes."