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Mike Mayock predicts Lamar Jackson will be first-round pick

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Forget about the debate over what position Lamar Jackson will play in the NFL. The newest argument is how early the Louisville quarterback could be selected in next week's draft (Apr. 26-28, NFL Network, FOX).

Per NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, the answer could be very early.

Mayock told reporters on a conference call Friday that it wouldn't surprise him if some team jumped into the top 10 to take arguably the most exciting player in college football the past few years.

"The guy I'm just really excited about is Lamar Jackson," Mayock said. "He's the most spectacular athlete in this draft. I think somebody in the first round is going to make a philosophical and schematic commitment to this kid and change what they do offensively, and it might not be this year where he makes a significant move. But I think long term, I can't wait to see what Lamar Jackson becomes."

If a team doesn't ultimately take the 6-foot-3, 200-pound QB in the first 10 to 20 selections, Mayock said to keep an eye on the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots. The two squads -- while owners of currently statuesque quarterbacks -- have innovative enough coaches to select Jackson and completely flip their offenses if and when Drew Brees and Tom Brady hang them up.

"I'm a little intrigued by the Patriots and the Saints with who their next quarterback's going to be," Mayock said. "You know, in my head, guys like [Bill] Belichick and [Sean] Payton, who think outside the box and are very smart men, whether or not they'd be looking at Lamar Jackson and committing to that young man down the road."

Jackson threw for 9,043 yards, 69 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in his collegiate career. He added 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns on the ground. Could that production be enough to hear his name called next Thursday?

Mayock certainly thinks so.

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