Sometime in the next 48 hours, Jamar Taylor will become a pro football player - in the formal sense.
He's trained, prepared and played like a pro for years. That's how he transformed himself from a last-minute addition to Boise State's 2008 recruiting class into a borderline NFL first-round draft pick.
Taylor is considered a candidate for the late first round Thursday night or the first half of the second round late Friday afternoon. He could be the fifth Bronco drafted in the first round in six years.
"There are a thousand guys every year that come out that have talent," said agent Ron Slavin, who added Taylor to a client list that includes former Boise State defensive backs Orlando Scandrick, Jeron Johnson and George Iloka. "It's who wants it and nobody wants it more than Jamar."
This moment - watching the NFL Draft in San Diego, surrounded by family - has driven Taylor since he began playing football as a 5-year-old, eschewing his cousins' suggestion that they play basketball in their free time and his dad's recommendation that he try baseball.
"I don't know whether I'm going to scream or cry, or how it's going to go," he said, "but I've definitely been dreaming about this for a long time."
Dreaming - and grinding.
Taylor (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) worked so hard at Boise State that strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha needed to educate him on the dangers of overtraining. Taylor spent part of his summers performing footwork drills in the sand at local parks. His time in the 40-yard dash - the knock on him out of high school - plummeted from 4.51 seconds in 2009 to 4.33 in 2012. He ran 4.39 at the NFL Scouting Combine (those times usually are slower than Boise State's) - tied for fourth-fastest among cornerbacks.
"His M.O., his whole mindset all the time, was he had to outwork people to try to be the best," Socha said, "and he truly tried to do that. He's got a little bit of that Boise State chip on his shoulder, where he feels no one expects him to be as good as he is. He had a very singular purpose and attacked it every day, and that was probably the neatest thing about coaching him from my standpoint."
Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake inherited Taylor, who played as a true freshman in 2008, redshirted in 2009 and started in 2010-11 under former assistant Marcel Yates. Lake, who coached DBs in the NFL from 2006-11, quickly slapped a one-word label on Taylor last spring: professional.
"When he came into our first meeting with a notepad and pen ready to write things down, that's when that word came to me," Lake said. "A professional wants to know his craft inside and out - and that's how I'd characterize Jamar from the first time I met him."
Taylor holds himself to a high standard, which helps push him through meticulous training and preparation.
"My dad always told me you're nobody till you make it to the hall of fame," said Taylor, who led the Broncos with four interceptions last season. "That just always sticks with me. I'm going to have something to prove until then."
That attitude served him well the past four months during the draft-prep circuit.
Taylor was off the national radar when he arrived at the Senior Bowl in January. He impressed enough in practices that the week was a success, even though an illness forced him to miss the game.
He kept his momentum with a strong showing at the combine, including top-five finishes among cornerbacks in the bench press (tied for first), 20-yard shuttle (tied for fourth) and 40.
He added a crisp workout at Boise State's pro day.
And in the past month, he visited four teams and staged private workouts for three. Two of his workouts were for the Patriots (pick No. 29) and Falcons (No. 30).
"I know a lot of people who have put late first-round grades on him," Lake said. "If there's a strong run on corners early in the draft, then I know for sure he'll get drafted in the first round. But there's no way he makes it out of the middle of the second."
The three leading TV analysts on the draft have similar takes. Mel Kiper Jr. says Taylor could land in the late first round, Todd McShay of ESPN rates him as the No. 29 overall prospect, and Mike Mayock of NFL Network rates him No. 51 overall.
At least three corners are widely expected to land in front of Taylor - Dee Milliner (Alabama), D.J. Hayden (Houston) and Xavier Rhodes (Florida State).
"(Taylor's) got quick feet, he'll tackle and like most Boise players, he's tough and understands the game of football," Mayock said. "So trust me, I think Jamar Taylor is a starting corner in the NFL and I really like him."
Taylor's football intelligence, Lake said, will allow him to transition quickly to the NFL, where he will face new terminology, more talented receivers and some inevitable setbacks.
The Broncos utilized a variety of schemes, and Taylor was able to take the concepts from the meeting room to the practice field without hesitation. He also possesses the less-tangible instincts that lead to sound decision-making at game speed.
"He's going to pass all 32 teams' test in terms of height, weight, strength and his 40 time," Lake said. "After that, it's all the things that you can't measure - his football awareness, his competitiveness, his football instincts. But I know the general managers and the scouts and the football coaches in the NFL, when they watch tape and watch routes and watch him read run or pass, they will be able to pick up on how dynamic his football knowledge is."
And when Taylor arrives in a team's camp, the staff will learn about those indomitable work habits.
The most common question Socha gets from teams: "Is he as good as everyone says?"
Taylor says sometimes he has to fight through fatigue in his workouts, but never has he felt regret that he isn't doing something else.
"I never look at it as a grind," he said, "because at the end of the day, hard work pays off."