Joe Staley (OT, Central Michigan).
As all savvy SB Nation readers will recall, we initially had the No. 10 pick in the draft before we dropped back twice (first to No. 12 and then to No. 21). Our reason for trading back is simple: We're not a very good football team. We need to add talent at nearly every position on the roster, and last month's trade for future global icon Matt Schaub cost us our second-rounder in this year's draft (among other things). As such, we went into this year's draft with an eye toward acquiring more picks and added flexibility. We've accomplished that laudable goal thus far, having acquired Denver's second-rounder (No. 56 overall) and Buffalo's third-rounder (No. 92 overall). Instead of having two picks in the first three rounds, we now have four. Basically, we're trying to do exactly the opposite of what Charley Casserly would do if he was still running this franchise, as well as this fine city's hopes and dreams, into the ground.
That said, I don't know if we could have mustered the testicular fortitude to trade back if Adrian Peterson or LaRon Landry had been staring us in the face at No. 10. So thank you to Minnesota and Atlanta for allowing the Texans to exercise sound judgment. Insert your Vince Young and/or Reggie Bush jokes here.
Why Joe Staley? Several reasons, the biggest one being that the guy we hoped would be our LT for years to come (Charles Spencer) may not be ready for the season opener after breaking his leg in Week Two last season. In fact, a few months ago, there was a real question as to whether he'd ever play again. Ephraim Salaam is a fine swing tackle and did well in emergency starting duty last season, but he's not a long-term answer. Staley is. Scouting reports indicate that Joe Staley is massive, quick, and very aggressive. Even better, he still has ample room to improve (he started his collegiate career as a TE before moving to RT and eventually LT) despite already being rated the No. 3 OT in the draft. Staley was a guy we had an eye on as we moved back, and we're thrilled to get him. Should Spencer make it back to form, we can always move Staley to RT or even guard. Frankly, that'd be a great problem to have for a team that once started notorious stiffs Seth Wand and Todd Wade on the offensive line.
If we learned nothing from the debacle that was The David Carr Era, it is that protecting the quarterback should be of utmost importance for any offense. I don't care how good Andre Johnson is (and he is freakishly good); if Schaub doesn't have time to deliver him the ball, Dre's talents are wasted. If we ever want to be anything more than a punchline, we have to start in the trenches (tip of the cap to faithful BRB readers BFD, Shake, and TPL for reiterating this point time and again these past few days). Hence, Joe Staley is a Houston Texan. In this fantasy world, anyway.
I eagerly await your reactions in the Comments. And be sure to keep an eye on the mock draft over at SB Nation's sweet Seattle Seahawks site, Field Gulls.