Lance Zierlein isn't saying the Texans are going to take Khalil Mack with the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is, however, tweeting that it could be a more realistic scenario than most pundits think.
Had conversation w/ friend for team inside top 10 abt Clowney late last night.He said his team got rough evals on football character from SC— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) May 6, 2014
If this information is correct, and I have no reason to believe his team didn’t hear this Clowney info, I think Texans go Mack.— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) May 6, 2014
I don’t see the Houston Texans and Bill O’Brien/Rick Smith taking a chance at #1 on just traits if a guy has questionable football character— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) May 6, 2014
The Shutdown Corner's Eric Edholm adds some context to LZ's tweets in this article. An excerpt:
All along we have been hearing that the Texans really were intrigued by Mack, and how he might actually be a quote-unquote better fit in Romeo Crennel's scheme. But the Texans couldn't pass on such a rare talent as Clowney, right?
Well, this much we know. The Texans should have had zero trouble gathering evidence on Clowney. Yes, there are a few possibly biased sources in the organization, such as owner Bob McNair, a South Carolina alum, plus former Gamecocks DBs Johnathan Joseph and D.J. Swearinger, both who have campaigned for the team to take Clowney.
But as ESPN's Adam Schefter wrote Monday, the Texans also have two great sources for info on Clowney. The team's new strength and conditioning coach, Craig Fitzgerald, was in the same position at South Carolina from 2009-2011, right when Clowney was coming on board to the school. In addition, the father of the Texans' new quality-control coach Will Lawing, Brad Lawing, was Clowney’s defensive line coach at South Carolina.
So perhaps, if the simmering reports about Mack going first are true, the Texans just didn't feel comfortable with what they were hearing on Clowney. And if there's a team that has this No. 1 pick switcheroo 48 hours before the draft down pat, it's the Texans, who pulled the same manuever back in 2006 with Mario Williams trumping the widely anticipated Reggie Bush for the top spot.
To add further fuel to the fire, note that Peter King, in the only mock draft he does, has--you guessed it--the Texans taking Khalil Mack first overall:
1. *HOUSTON: KHALIL MACK, OLB, BUFFALO
While everyone talks about the immense athleticism of Jadeveon Clowney, let’s point this out: Mack’s 40 time at his Pro Day was 4.53 seconds. Clowney’s was 4.53 seconds. Mack vertical-jumped 40 inches, Clowney 37.5. GM Rick Smith must ignore the heat for bypassing Clowney.
This isn't the first time King has written about the idea of Rick Smith preferring Mack to Clowney, and Smith does have some history (#CONNECTIONS) with King. Is Rick Smith, via these "RickyLeaks" as Capt. Ron so cleverly coined them, using King as a tool to further trade discussions with interested suitors? Or is there some truth to the theory of the Texans shocking the world and passing on Jadeveon Clowney for Khalil Mack?
Don't look at me. I have no idea.