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The Houston Texans seemed poised to draft either Bryce Young or CJ Stroud for most of the NFL Draft season. Whoever the Carolina Panthers did not select appeared to be the clear favorite to go to Houston.
But as the draft drew near, and the Panthers honed-in on Bryce Young, speculation ran rampant that the Texans did not want to pick Stroud.
OutKick previously reported that a source said Houston’s visit with Stroud was “terrible.” That’s why, in the days leading up to the NFL Draft, oddsmakers had Stroud as a heavy underdog to go second.
The Texans hired DeMeco Ryans as head coach earlier this offseason. Ryans is a defensive-minded coach who most recently served as defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.
He reportedly didn’t love any of the quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, except perhaps Young, and preferred to draft a defensive cornerstone instead.
The Texans apparently compromised, as the team drafted Stroud and then traded up to draft Will Anderson. Ryans got the defensive player that he coveted and a quarterback.
But who wanted that quarterback? If Ryans and the front office did not have a good visit with Stroud and it became clear they wanted a defensive player, then something had to have changed.
The obvious speculation became that ownership stepped in and told the team to take a QB.
Texans owner denies telling front office to draft CJ Stroud
However, Houston Texans owner Cal McNair denies that either he or his wife, Hannah, had anything to do with the team’s NFL Draft selections.
“Hannah and I don’t make the picks. We’ll make it clear there,” McNair said during the 20th annual Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic, according to ESPN.
“We have a great group of scouts led by [GM] 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.”
Well, it’s a denial of sorts. He says that they don’t “make the picks.” Obviously. The general manager officially makes the selections and delivers them to the league.
But he didn’t say that they didn’t have ANY influence. Or perhaps he didn’t say Stroud at all. Maybe the owner made it known that he wanted the team to take a quarterback.
What McNair did is create plausible deniability. Whether or not he impacted the picks, he’s not going to say.
He doesn’t want people around the league to know if he’s undermining his own front office.
I’m not convinced that he didn’t, though.
From what I know, the coaching staff and front office did not love Stroud. The Vegas odds reflected serious doubt the team would pick the Ohio State quarterback.
They traded up to get Will Anderson, indicating they wanted him badly.
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
Cal McNair tried to put it out, but he didn’t quite get the job done.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak