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Texans owner Cal McNair pleased with improved roster entering 2023: 'I see a lot of progress'

The Houston Texans shook up the 2023 NFL Draft, snagging quarterback C.J. Stroud with the No. 2 overall selection before shipping a host of picks, including next year's first-rounder, to Arizona to move to No. 3 overall to take pass rusher Will Anderson Jr.

The draft signaled Texans general manager Nick Caserio pushing his chips into the middle after years of rebuilding.

Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair was asked Monday at the club's charity golf tournament how he measures Caserio's success this year.

"Well, I think you just have to look at the roster, and I think it's a better roster this year," he said. "Very competitive. You want to have competition at each of those spots on the roster.

"I see a lot of progress and a lot of good things on the way."

The Stroud and Anderson selections add upside talent to a roster sorely lacking in that department. Houston also signed needed veterans, particularly on defense, who should mix well in first-year coach DeMeco Ryans' system.

It was a bold move by Caserio to trade future picks on a team that is still expected to struggle to stack wins in 2023. The GM's future has been questioned this offseason, so much so that he felt the need to state last month, "I'm not leaving."

Another season of struggles, particularly after the draft-day moves, and it might not be his choice.

McNair made it clear Monday that ownership isn't involved in the final decisions of which players to draft.

If Caserio's moves pan out, history will care little about the steep price he paid for foundational building blocks. That starts with Stroud, who should have a reasonably easy path to starting with Davis Mills and veteran Case Keenum his top competition.

"Well, I think that's up to him and how he plays and the coaches and how they see him," McNair said when asked about the prospect of Stroud starting as a rookie. "So he'll earn his spot wherever that is, and he'll feel like he's earned it, and the team will know he's earned wherever he winds up. So we're looking forward to that."

The rookie additions and Ryans' coaching staff make the 2023 Texans better on paper than previous iterations. But whether that improvement shows up in the win column remains to be seen.

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