Jadeveon Clowney has been through the ringer.
He was a can't-miss prospect. Then, he was allegedly lazy. One workout in his shorts at a pro day later, and Clowney is back to being that once-in-a-generation prospect.
It all comes to a head Thursday at the 2014 NFL draft, where Clowney will hear his name called No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans. Or he won't.
Like most anything else draft related, it depends on who is asked.
For example, look at NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who has done his due diligence and no longer believes Clowney is the surefire No. 1 overall pick:
In talking to people who know #Texans GM Rick Smith well, I no longer believe it’s a certainty that Jadeveon Clowney would be their 1st pick— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 5, 2014
The notion that Clowney could slip makes sense provided he has lined up with his hand in the dirt for most of his career and would be an odd schematic fit in Houston, where he would be asked to stand up in the 3-4 alignment.
But six of the eight experts over at NFL.com still peg Clowney as the first player off the board, including names like Daniel Jeremiah, Charley Casserly and Bucky Brooks. All five experts at CBS Sports, including Dane Brugler and Will Brinson, have Clowney as the No. 1 overall pick, too.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller concurs that Houston will pull the trigger, as there is no comparable prospect to Clowney and that value at other spots can be addressed in later rounds:
The prospect of having two amazing rushers on each side of the line is too good to pass up, especially in the AFC South, where Andrew Luck shows up on the schedule twice per year. The Texans do need a quarterback, but head coach Bill O'Brien can develop a quality passer drafted in the top of the second round. He wouldn't be able to find an athlete comparable to Clowney there.
Greg A. Bedard of MMQB is also on board with the plan, and he provides reasons to not worry about any potential effort issues:
The preferred option would be for the Texans to move down a little lower, draft Blake Bortles (who most fits what coach Bill O’Brien is looking for to trigger his pocket-based offense down the road) and pick up a few draft picks. But failing that, Clowney has to be the pick. Even though there are concerns about how much he wants it, Clowney is worth the risk because he’s a physical freak. Plus, between Texans OLB coach Mike Vrabel and end J.J. Watt, there’s enough help there to get the best out of Clowney.
For his part, Clowney assures fans and potential suitors that the effort narrative is overblown, per Pete Iacobelli of The Associated Press:
"I think I work just as hard as anybody. If you pick me and pair me with guys, I'm going to try and outwork them also."
How about a wild card? Clowney can still go No. 1 overall, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the Texans that waltz to the podium. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says he believes the Texans would like to sell Clowney to the highest bidder:
As it stands, I believe the Texans are trying to decide between defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and quarterback Johnny Manziel with the first overall pick.
I believe general manager Rick Smith will trade - but not too far down - if he gets an overwhelming offer from a team that believes the extraordinarily talented Clowney is the missing piece.
Either way, it's quite apparent most believe Clowney will be gone in the top five. Where is a different story, as a shocker team like Atlanta or Buffalo could move up to the top spot and steal him, not to mention the wealth of teams that could potentially sell the farm if he falls to No. 2 or lower.
There are more intriguing prospects to watch on draft day. Plenty of guys are hard to figure out in regards to draft position but not Clowney. He is more interesting in terms of how he pans out overall as a pro, which may in large part hinge on where he lands.
Popular wisdom says Houston, or at the very least the No. 1 spot. Anything else at this point would be a shocker.