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Cal McNair says he didn’t pressure Texans’ pick of C.J. Stroud

Mike Florio and Chris Simms evaluate which teams came out on the upside from the 2023 NFL Draft, from the Eagles to the Texans and more.

The Texans drafted C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick, a surprise to many who were convinced the team would pass on a quarterback after missing out on Bryce Young.

Texans owner Cal McNair insisted Monday that neither he nor his wife, Hannah, forced the selection of the Ohio State quarterback.

“Hannah and I don’t make the picks. We’ll make it clear there,” McNair said during the Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic, via DJ Bien-Aime of ESPN. “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.”

The Texans picked Stroud at No. 2 and then traded up to No. 3 in a deal with the Cardinals to take Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr.

Despite outside uncertainty about what the team was doing with the second pick, the Texans repeatedly have said they never wavered on the choice. They now have who they hope is their franchise quarterback.

They thought they had that with Deshaun Watson until the relationship between player and team soured, and then Watson became embroiled in a series of civil suits for sexual misconduct.

A year after trading Watson -- and more than two years since he played his final game for the Texans -- Houston has who they hope is his long-term replacement.

The Texans have a much improved roster from the past two seasons when they went 11-38-1 with two different head coaches. They will have their third head coach in three years and expect to see progress this season under DeMeco Ryans.

“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.”