Could Khalil Mack — and not Jadeveon Clowney — be the first pick of the Texans?

Houston-based writer and radio host Lance Zierlein has strong ties within the Texans organization and the NFL at large. He's starting to believe that the Texans, who so far have kept their plans with the first pick in the NFL draft quite hush-hush, might be leaning toward taking Buffalo LB Khalil Mack over the more touted Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney — or perhaps a quarterback — has been the pick that most folks have imagined at No. 1. But Zierlein says he believes the team's brass might worry about spending a franchise-changing selection with fears about Clowney's reliabiliy.

OK, so this is Lance's opinion, right? Or him speculating? But wait — then came a strong backing to that theory: MMQB's Peter King put Mack in his top spot in his final mock draft.

It's possible that a kid who was barely recruited out of high school — for the second straight year, too, with Central Michigan's Eric Fisher last year — could be the No. 1 pick in the draft.

All along we have been hearing that the Texans were intrigued by Mack, and how he might be a "better fit" in Romeo Crennel's defensive scheme. But the Texans couldn't pass on such a rare talent as Clowney, right?

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.

Perhaps, if the simmering reports about Mack going first are true, the Texans 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.

We might be in for another surprise with Mack.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!