Now that the offseason is here for the Pittsburgh Steelers, much of the attention turns to the NFL Draft process for many.
Of course, free agency, roster subtractions and other financial decisions are ahead for the black and gold following a 9-8 season. But the area where the Steelers can really add some upgrades to the roster remains through the NFL Draft. Entering the 2023 NFL Draft, the Steelers have three picks inside the top 50, including the first pick of the second round at No. 32 overall, thanks to the Chase Claypool trade with the Chicago Bears.
That will help the Steelers plug some holes on the roster early in the 2023 NFL Draft. Ideally, those picks address cornerback, inside linebacker and the defensive line, at least for this writer, but for CBS Sports’ Kyle Stackpole, the Steelers need to address the offensive line in the first round of the draft.
In his latest mock draft for CBS Sports, Stackpole has the Steelers adding a big, long, athletic pass protector in Oklahoma left tackle Anton Harrison at No. 17 overall.
“As long as T.J. Watt is healthy, the Steelers defense will be just fine. Anton Harrison will help ensure Kenny Pickett stays clean in the pocket, Najee Harris has holes to run through, and George Pickens has time to get open,” Stackpole writes regarding the selection of Harrison at No. 17 overall in his latest mock draft.
Harrison is the fourth tackle to come off the board in Stackpole’s mock draft, with Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. going seventh overall to Las Vegas, Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski at No. 13 to the New York Jets, and Georgia’s Broderick Jones at No. 14 to the New England Patriots.
At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Harrison has the size and overall length to be a building block in the trenches, especially from a pass protection standpoint. He has sound movement skills overall and mirrors very well in pass protection overall, though his functional strength in the run game remains a concern.
In 862 snaps in 2022 with the Sooners, Harrison allowed just one sack on the season, with 803 snaps coming at left tackle and another 59 at right tackle, earning a grade of 72.6 overall from Pro Football Focus, including an 83.3 in pass protection and a 67.7 in run blocking.
On top of allowing just one sack, Harrison allowed just eight total pressures on the season in 447 pass blocking reps, improving greatly from his sophomore season in 2021.
As a sophomore with Oklahoma, Harrison allowed two sacks, one quarterback hit and 14 pressures in 671 snaps (382 pass blocking reps), according to Pro Football Focus.
In his three seasons with the Sooners, Harrison played in 34 games, starting 24 at left tackle. As a junior, Harrison was named a First Team All-Big 12 offensive lineman by the Associated Press, as well as by the league’s coaches. Harrison did not play in his final game as a Sooner, opting to sit out of the Cheez-It Bowl in which Florida State topped Oklahoma, 35-32.
Though the Steelers offensive line played well down the stretch and the left side of the line in left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and left guard Kevin Dotson showed serious growth together in the second half of the season, if the Steelers have a chance to get a top-tier blindside blocker for quarterback Kenny Pickett early in the draft inside the top 50, they should seriously consider making the selection.