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Houston Texans owner on C.J. Stroud pick: I didn’t force anything

The Houston Texans surprised many at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft by selecting former Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud at No. 2 overall.

It’s not that Houston didn’t need a quarterback. It did. It’s not that Stroud wasn’t considered the second-best quarterback in the class behind Bryce Young. For the most part, he was.

Rather, it’s all about the pre-draft narrative that Stroud was slipping down the draft boards due to less-than-stellar scores on a specific cognitive test. It seemed to be trending in the direction of the talented young signal caller falling well past the Texans at two.

More than a week removed from the Draft, Texans owner Cal McNair is pushing back against the belief that he forced general manager Nick Caserio and head coach DeMeco Ryans into making the pick.

“Hannah (McNair’s wife) and I don’t make the picks. We’ll make it clear there. We have a great group of scouts led by Nick [Caserio] and James Lippert, and they did a lot of work on the draft board, and then they followed that on draft day, and they moved up when they saw the value was there and moved back.”

Houston Texans owner Cal McNair on C.J. Stroud selection, via ESPN

It must be noted that McNair has been somewhat of a hand-on owner since taking over that role after his father’s passing back in 2018. With that said, he doesn’t take on a quasi-general manager role like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Even then, Houston boasted some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL a season ago. Once the team landed the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, it seemed clear that this was the direction it would go.

That did change a bit leading up to the draft with Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson rumored to be the selection. When Houston used one of the first-round picks it acquired from Cleveland in the Deshaun Watson trade to move up to No. 3 for Anderson, some believed that ownership played a role. McNair is having none of that.

Related: Houston Texans rookie has C.J. Stroud to thank for being drafted by new team

Cal McNair optimistic about the direction of the Houston Texans

NFL: Houston Texans Press Conference
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Houston is coming off a brutal three-win season. Lovie Smith represented its second consecutive one-and-done head coach. Rumors of front office issues from the ownership down have plagued this organization over the past few years.

Despite all of that, McNair likes what he sees in this current iteration of the Texans.

“I think you just have to look at the roster, and I think it’s a better roster this year, very competitive,” McNair said. “They want to have competition spots on the roster. So, I see a lot of progress. A lot of good things.”

An expedited rebuild and being competitive on a consistent basis are two different things. But with the additions of both Stroud and Anderson, things are looking up from a talent perspective in Houston. That’s hard to deny.

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