Jadeveon Clowney is the most popular pick among draftniks to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. However the uber-athletic pass rusher from South Carolina might not even be the top defensive player on the Houston Texans' board.
In fact, a source close to Mack informed NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport that the linebacker has a visit lined up with the Texans on Thursday, which would take place after he meets with the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday and the Detroit Lions on Wednesday.
Since Clowney's pro day, the consensus among scouts has been that he is a transcendent talent, especially in a draft with no clear top quarterback.
The news that Smith might prefer Mack over Clowney could be scheme-related. Mack would better fill the need for an outside linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 defense, while Clowney appears more suited as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
The leak might also be an effort to drum up trade chatter if the Houston brass decides it would like to pass on Clowney, but want to pick up additional assets for their effort.
Deep in the foggy haze of smokescreen season, the prospect of the Texans taking Mack over Clowney -- or their quarterback of choice -- feels like the biggest façade yet. The draft still sits an excruciating 17 days away.