CLEVELAND — Unusually warm temperatures this week on the shores of Lake Erie are expected to give way to stormy weather and precipitation Thursday just before the 86th NFL draft begins in the area surrounding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and EnergyFirst Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns.

In a development that could be viewed as just as sudden and shocking, in many ways, the spotlight will be squarely on a baby-faced quarterback from BYU who, until seven or eight months ago, was on nobody’s radar for the annual event officially called the Player Selection Meeting.

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Zach Wilson took the world of college football by storm last fall, and now the confident, headband-wearing phenom born and raised in Utah is poised to do the same to the 2021 NFL draft, which could quite possibly end up being referred to as the “Zach Wilson Draft,” for better or worse.

Although Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the first overall pick, by the Jacksonville Jaguars and former University of Utah football coach Urban Meyer, this is clearly Wilson’s moment, as millions of viewers from around the world will quite likely get their first look at the precocious kid from Draper, Utah.

“We are here, rain or shine. Just like a Browns game, we play in the rain.” — NFL Director of Events Nicki Ewell, who expects some inclement weather Thursday when the NFL draft begins in Cleveland

The reason for that is because, of the three quarterbacks expected to go 1-2-3 in the draft, only Wilson has made his way here to Cleveland, along with his parents — Mike and Lisa Wilson — and girlfriend, Brighton High graduate and Utah Valley University student Abbey Gile, an accomplished performer — a dancer — in her own right.

Decked out in a Hugo Boss-designed suit, according to some family members who otherwise have been tight-lipped about Wilson’s apparel and traveling entourage the past few weeks, Wilson will stroll across the makeshift stage at approximately 8:10 p.m. local time — 6 p.m. in the Mountain time zone — as the No. 2 overall pick, to the New York Jets, barring a totally unforeseen turn of events.

Wilson will embrace NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has already been vaccinated to fight off the COVID-19 virus — his handlers have widely made known — and cover his bushy, somewhat untamed blond hair with a “Gotham Green” ball cap signifying he’s about to become the property of the Jets.

New York Jets fans, famous for their reactions when the draft was held annually at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall until 2015, won’t be here to roundly boo Goodell, or Wilson, for that matter, but several media members from the Big Apple who arrived a day early told the Deseret News that picking Wilson second is being met with satisfaction by a majority of Jets fans.

All told, the NFL says only 13 prospects will be assembled in the “green room” beyond a huge, makeshift stage designed to hold the draft and a trio of rock bands who will entertain the audience for three straight nights: Kings of Leon (Thursday), Black Pumas (Friday) and Machine Gun Kelly (Saturday).

The structure where the first day of the draft will be held was a beehive of activity on Wednesday. Located on the northern edge of the lakefront between the Rock Hall and EnergyFirst — where former BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki is poised to enter his third season with the Browns — the all-rented temporary structure that will be disassembled after the draft is 95 feet tall, 220 feet wide and 225 feet deep, according to director of NFL events Nicki Ewell.

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“We are here, rain or shine,” Ewell said Wednesday before the media was given a tour of the “Draft Experience” that will accompany the festivities and is free of charge to fans. “Just like a Browns game, we play in the rain.”

As Kings of Leon went through a dress rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, many of the top expected picks were shown on the huge video boards; Wilson’s primary photo is of him wearing that familiar headband — not the “Any Team Time Place” headband, but the one with Michael Jordan’s likeness.

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson signs an autograph for a young fan after the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla., on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. BYU won 49-23. Wilson reportedly is one of just 13 players who made the trip to Cleveland to participate in the NFL draft festivities. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Viewers at home will have options. ESPN’s coverage will be led by anchor Mike Greenberg for the first time, with usuals such as Mel Kiper Jr., Adam Schefter, Suzy Kolber and Louis Riddick providing commentary and analysis.

Another viewing option, NFL Network, will have Daniel Jeremiah, Rich Eisen and other frequent contributors. Jeremiah attended BYU’s pro day on March 26 in Provo and has been generally positive about the Jets using their No. 2 pick on Wilson.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and North Dakota State QB Trey Lance will also be on hand; Lawrence and Justin Fields chose to participate virtually from their homes in Clemson, South Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio, respectively.

Until about two weeks ago, that was also Wilson’s plan. He had already invited dozens of former teammates and family members to his parents’s home near Corner Canyon High in the southeastern Salt Lake Valley suburb of Draper, about 20 miles from downtown Salt Lake City.

But the NFL “almost begged” Wilson to make the trip, and he obliged, according to a family member who did not want to be named.

Other prospects in Cleveland include Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain II, Christian Barmore and Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith. They will join the aforementioned QBs and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, Miami’s Gregory Rousseau, Penn State’s Micah Parsons and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater.

“The draft will be a celebration of all 32 (NFL teams), but certainly a nod to the Cleveland Browns and the Dawg Pound,” Ewell said.

Why Cleveland, which has not been one of the league’s more successful franchises?

“Take the Stage” banners are everywhere, as are the faces of the top prospects — Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and, of course, the photogenic Wilson, who one wag said looks like an actor who would play Zach Wilson if they ever make a movie about Zach Wilson.

Ewell said the city had the “perfect campus” surrounding its stadium to host an event, especially as the pandemic remains a threat.

“This is the biggest campus we could get, so this is where we really wanted to be,” she said. “… Our most accessible drafts have been where the stage and stadium are adjacent.”

The city that claims to have invented Lifesavers candy, the modern golf ball and electric streetlights, and boasts Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, famed guitarist Joe Walsh and actors Paul Newman and Hallie Berry is “buzzing” over the event, Ewell said, and she’s not wrong.

“Take the Stage” banners are everywhere, as are the faces of the top prospects — Lawrence, Fields and, of course, the photogenic Wilson, who one wag said looks like an actor who would play Zach Wilson if they ever make a movie about Zach Wilson.

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The walkup entrance to the pyramid-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be used as the famous “red carpet” area for prospects, although few fans or media will be allowed to witness it due to COVID-19 precautions.

As for BYU’s other prospects, none are expected to go until Saturday’s 4-7 rounds, although offensive tackle Brady Christensen, who, like Wilson, came out a year early, could sneak into Friday’s second or third rounds if there is a run on offensive linemen early, experts say.

“I will be ready whenever I am taken. I have talked to all but one team in the NFL. Hopefully, some of them are interested,” said Christensen, who plans to spend the weekend at the Bountiful home of his parents, Doug and Shauna Christensen, with his wife, Jordynn and two-month-old son, Ledger.

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Christensen’s favorite team growing up was the Tennessee Titans because he had an old Eddie George jersey, given to him by his brother.

Wilson’s favorite?

He would never really say, instead listing QBs he emulated such as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and others.

But that will change less than 10 minutes into the draft Thursday night.

Barring a miracle, one of Utah’s favorite sons will finally become a New York Jet.