"He is a remarkable player," McNair said. "He's one of these players that's a once every 10 years kind of physical specimen. Mario Williams was that way. I think that Clowney is a better athlete than Mario, so that tells you what kind of player he can be."
In 2006, the Texans went against popular opinion and drafted Williams over hot prospects like Reggie Bush and Vince Young. It turned out to be the right move, but Williams still left Houston to sign a big-money free agent deal with the Buffalo Bills.
McNair has even talked to his superstar defensive lineman J.J. Watt about Clowney.
"Like many of these fellas who have these great physical attributes, they didn't have to work as hard in junior high school, high school and college to be a superlative athlete because they have this natural ability," McNair said. "He's not a J.J. Watt. J.J. didn't have that natural ability. He worked. He developed his. One of the things I said to J.J. is 'I don't know what'll happen but if we get Clowney, we want you to instill in him the same kind of work habits that you have.' He said 'If he's in the same room as me, he'll have them."
There are a couple ways to look at McNair's quotes. The first one is that McNair is trying to drive up the cost if he trades the No. 1 pick. McNair has already said he'll be open to trading the pick. Calling Clowney a once-a-decade player could be an attempt at enticing some team to trade their draft away to get him. The top suitor to do that may be the Atlanta Falcons.
The other, less conspiracy-driven, theory is that McNair simply likes the South Carolina star. The thought of pairing Clowney with Watt may be hard to pass up. However, taking a defensive end on a 3-4 team may be unwise given Houston's quarterback situation.