Texans Hannah McNair on draft, buzz surrounding team: 'The energy is great'

Minutes after an introductory press conference for first-round draft picks C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr., Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair emphasized how much he feels like the two rookies fit what he envisions for the franchise.

Both Stroud, a strong-armed former Ohio State All-American quarterback selected second overall, and Anderson, a Bronko Najurski award winning defensive end from Alabama picked third overall, were regarded as instrumental leaders for their schools. And both rookies, especially Stroud, displayed a lot of personality during their first day at work at NRG Stadium.

“That’s exactly what we want: two guys coming in like this, joining the group that we already have that want to work hard and contribute to the team and be coached and be as good as they can be,” McNair said. “That’s what we’re looking for. They’re exactly the prototypical guys we want to bring in, so it’s really exciting to have them.’

‘It’s exciting to get two really good players like that that will come in and make a big contribution, come in and work hard and be a good part of the team. It’s really fun to see.”

McNair and his wife, Texans foundation vice president Hannah McNair, both attended the team’s draft party at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. They even went back after receiving videos of fans celebrating.

Hannah McNair smiled when asked about the past few seasons and rough seasons, including going a combined 11-38-1 over the past three years.

“What negativity? I just don’t recall,” she said. “It’s short memory, like a goldfish.”

Turning serious, Hannah McNair captured the upbeat mood surrounding the franchise in the building and on social media.

“The buzz is so incredible,” Hannah McNair said. “The energy is great, can’t wait to see the stadium full. I know it seems like it just turned a corner today, but we have been working on this for quite some time. It’s just nice to see it all come to fruition.”

Acquiring Anderson wasn’t simple. After picking Stroud second overall, getting in position to select Anderson with the next pick involved sending the 12th pick of the first round, the 33rd pick overall in the second-round and the Texans’ first-round and third-round picks in 2024 with Houston netting Anderson and the 105th overall pick in the fourth round.

One year after trading disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns for three first-round draft picks, the Texans had the draft capital to maneuver to select Anderson.

“We had the assets,” McNair said. “We had been planning to be able to do these type of things. You have to have the assets. To recognize that’s the guy you want and then go execute it, it should be a lot of fun for the fans.”

There was an element of suspense in that situation. The trade wasn’t finalized until roughly a minute left on the clock.

“It didn’t seem very quick,” McNair said. “It took almost the whole 10 minutes, nine of the 10 minutes to do it. We were a little bit on edge, but it worked out.”

By adding a potential franchise quarterback and a defensive cornerstone, the Texans are optimistic they’re placing in foundational pieces to their rebuild.

McNair was emphatic that there was autonomy from general manager Nick Caserio and coach DeMeco Ryans in the draft process.

“I was a little less involved than in the coaching search,” McNair said. “That’s real specialized. It wasn’t in the last month they woke up and started looking at Will Anderson or C.J. They’ve been watching them, literally, for years. They know them so well, know their teammates, know their coaches, know their high school coaches probably. There’s so much that goes into it that you have to let these guys do their job and they did it yesterday.”

Hannah McNair, who works in tandem with her husband on team-related matters and was involved in the coaching search that landed Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker and the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year, said that teamwork between Caserio and Ryans was evident.

“Were Nick and DeMeco and Cal and everybody aligned? It’s an absolute yes,” she said. “They worked through everything together. There were no disagreements. It was all about, ‘We love these guys. How do we get them?’ It was awesome to see the alignment across the board. You don’t see that all the time and it gives me goosebumps when I see them all together. The energy is so magnetic, it’s just incredible.”

As McNair spoke, Hannah McNair took a turn as a reporter and asked her husband a question.

Did his mother, Texans co-founder Janice McNair like the picks?

“She loved them,” he replied.

The Texans drafted Stroud after the Carolina Panthers selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the Texans’ original target if they had the first overall pick.

“Well, he was ranked highly and well thought of,” McNair said. “We’re excited to have him here and see what he can do.”

Following the press conference, Hannah McNair summed up the initial impressions of Stroud and Anderson.

“Yes, I think those two men represent exactly what the leadership of our team represents,” McNair said. “That comes from Cal, Nick, DeMeco, Janice. I think you’re seeing that play out in the players they pick.”

Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com

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