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Ex-Archbishop Murphy coach had hunch years ago that Abraham Lucas, Kyler Gordon would be high NFL draft picks

Early in Jerry Jensen's coaching career with the Wildcats, he saw signs the two teenagers had what it took to play in the highest professional football ranks

If you think Jerry Jensen got carried away - well, he is the first to admit he leveled some pretty lofty expectations on Abraham Lucas and Kyler Gordon with Archbishop Murphy Wildcats football.

Almost immediately, Jensen began privately telling a few friends he thought the two teenagers had what it took to play in the NFL.

And then he took it a step further.

"I was telling people, 'They are top-10 draft picks,'" said Jensen, the Archbishop Murphy coach from 2013-18..

Jensen was on to something.

As the 2022 NFL Draft starts Thursday in Las Vegas, Lucas, a stalwart offensive tackle at Washington State University, and Gordon, a quick-twitch cornerback at the University of Washington, are safely projected as top-50 picks.

Fox Sports NFL draft analyst Rob Rang sees a scenario where either one of them - or both - could climb into the first round, especially coming off strong offseason combine showings.

Jensen now chuckles at his ambitious statement from 7-8 years ago, adding "I've kind of learned to calm my expectations because there are so many variables to being drafted."

But Jensen also had the eye - and pedigree - for the NFL type. After finishing up his own playing career at the UW, he was selected in the fifth round of the 1998 NFL Draft by Carolina, and played two seasons with the franchise.

Abraham Lucas, WSU and Archbishop Murphy football before 2022 NFL Draft

At first, Abraham Lucas wanted to be a basketball player - but realized his future was in football on the offensive line.

Lucas was a ninth grader in the Wildcats' program during Jensen's inaugural season. He was already tall, nimble ... and set on becoming a college-bound basketball star.

"A lot of kids that size are led to believe they are basketball players, or pushed to that," Jensen said.

"I talked to his parents very early in his high school career bout his potential in football to do some really good things, and they said, 'Good luck!'"

As Lucas matured, football became a bigger priority. And at the UW summer camp before his senior season in 2016, then-Huskies coach Chris Petersen came over to talk to Jensen and made a proclamation.

"He made a point to say, 'That kid is an NFL tackle,'" Jensen said.

That fall, Lucas switched from tight end of offensive tackle, was named an all-state second teamer and helped the school to a 14-0 record, capturing the Class 2A championship.

Lucas signed with WSU, and became a fixture on the Cougars' offensive line, making 42 consecutive starts at right tackle. He became a four-time, all-Pacific 12 Conference selection, including a first teamer as a senior last fall.

Speaking of all-Pac 12 first-team performers, that is what Gordon was for the Huskies at cornerback in 2021 as well.

Jensen said Gordon garnered a lot more fanfare earlier in his high school career as an all-purpose back on offense and cornerback/safety on defense.

Kyler Gordon, Archbishop Murphy and UW star before 2022 NFL Draft

As an all-purpose back and defensive back, Kyler Gordon at a two-time all-state selection at Archbishop Murphy.

"He was just dynamic. He had great hands, and understood body position and leverage," Jensen said.

Jensen recalled a short-space team drill that Gordon participated during his sophomore season. The goal was to avoid tackles.

"He put 5-6 moves and made all of these people miss," Jensen said. "I came up and told him, 'You get two moves.' And he looked at me ... but later understood.

"He could sit in a 5-yard box and make people miss all day."

Gordon was an all-state selection as a junior and senior, totaling nearly 2,500 rushing and receiving yards. He also nabbed 16 interceptions as a defensive back in his final three seasons with the Wildcats.

"A guy that talented athletically, he wasn't afraid to mix it up physically," Jensen said.

And now, Jensen gets to watch his two standouts' names called by NFL teams this week.

"The fact they were able to stick it through and are here on the other side - it's great to see," Jensen said.