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NFL draft to finally decide fate of Johnny Manziel

The NFL draft begins on May 8, with the biggest potential stars of the future jockeying for position. But while this year's NFL draft has defensive game changers like Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack available, as well as offensive weapons like Blake Bortles, Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins, one name has dominated much of the buzz. Johnny Manziel did pretty much the same thing at Texas A&M, so starting his pro career in the same way is fitting, no matter where he ends up.

Houston Texans:  New coach Bill O'Brien could be an immediate darling in some circles of Texas by taking Manziel, and bashed in others for passing on Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack -- assuming the Texans even keep the No. 1 pick.
Houston Texans: New coach Bill O'Brien could be an immediate darling in some circles of Texas by taking Manziel, and bashed in others for passing on Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack -- assuming the Texans even keep the No. 1 pick.
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Manziel's fate hangs over NFL draft
Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The guessing game of where Manziel will go in the draft is perhaps the biggest question of opening night. His fans in the state of Texas can hope that the Houston Texans should take him at No. 1, or that even the Dallas Cowboys could take a shot despite having the No. 16 pick and Tony Romo. Others who doubt Manziel can also wonder if he should be selected in the first round altogether.

No matter where Manziel lands in the NFL draft order, it wouldn't be a shock, although it would stir controversy in some fashion. The last time anyone inspired this kind of guessing game on draft day was Tim Tebow, another Heisman Trophy winning quarterback who inspired heated skepticism.

Manziel is likely to have a longer future in the NFL than Tebow. Yet which team in the upper echelon of the draft, if any, will take a risk on that -- and who will risk looking like a fool if they pass on him and he excels elsewhere? Can the Texans and new coach Bill O'Brien avoid that risk as they start to rebuild, or would it be a worse risk to take him?

Since the Texans may be eying Clowney or Mack instead, or eying a trade out of the No. 1 pick altogether, or eying Bortles as their potential quarterback of the future either way, the Manziel watch may not end quickly. With the St. Louis Rams at No. 2 and due to get former No. 1 pick Sam Bradford back, the highest Manziel could go might be to the Jacksonville Jaguars or Cleveland Browns -- two teams in need of buzz and franchise quarterbacks -- at No. 3 or No. 4.

The accompanying slideshow lists the teams linked to Manziel the most during the NFL draft buildup, as well as the teams who just need a new quarterback.