Texans' Will Anderson Jr. is back at the NFL draft, encouraging youngsters, promoting new cleats

DETROIT (AP) — Will Anderson Jr. is back at the NFL draft a year after the Houston Texans selected the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year with the third pick overall.

Anderson and New Orleans Saints edge rusher Chase Young joined Klutch Athletics founder Rich Paul this week for the reveal of New Balance’s first football cleats. Marvin Harrison Jr., who is expected to be the first wide receiver selected Thursday night, also will be wearing the new cleats.

“I was one of those people who didn’t care about what cleat I had on and when I got to the league it started to change a little bit more,” said Anderson, who had seven sacks as a rookie. “You start putting a little bit more weight on, your body starts changing, and then you got vets (giving advice) so that’s when I started taking it serious and started seeing it's a big difference, comfortability, how your feet move in it, ankle support."

Paul, whose Klutch Athletics sportswear brand is co-authored with New Balance, emphasized the importance of giving players input into the design.

“These guys play every Sunday so the perspective that Will and Chase can give you from the field directly to the innovation Center is extremely important,” Paul said. “They plant their foot, they cut and then the scale and the size of these guys and their mobility, being able to build a cleat that actually supports that and enhances their ability to perform is really cool.

“Also, we gotta have the voice of the athlete be back to the athlete. You can’t just go out and make something and then expect them to perform in it without giving them input. That doesn’t work. And so just making sure that we can consistently be authentic in that space is important.”

Paul, a mega-agent whose first client was LeBron James, is focusing his brand on bringing together community, athletes and culture.

“That’s one of the main reasons why I got involved because of that community feel,” Anderson said. “That’s what I’m all about. Growing up, I didn’t have somebody with the platform that I have come back and talk to my school or come back and talk to me when I was little. So I got this blessing to be a blessing. So now that I’m here, I get to go out and talk to the community, talk to the kids, to do all this good stuff to be a positive influence because that’s something that I wanted growing up. Now I got the chance to do that, to be a part of something special with Rich and the team that he’s built.”