There’s little doubt that the Pittsburgh Steelers will address their offensive line at some point during the 2023 NFL Draft, and Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports believes it’ll be in the first round. In his latest mock draft, he has the Steelers taking offensive tackle Anton Harrison out of Oklahoma.
“There was some thought that Harrison might return to Oklahoma for an NIL deal that was too good to pass up but he’s instead opted for the NFL. He’s one of the top tackles in the class and now the question is whether he finds his way into Round 1 or goes early on Day 2.”
Harrison just wrapped up his junior season at Oklahoma where he was named to the All Big-12 first team. He started 11 games at left tackle and one at right tackle after making 12 starts at left tackle during his sophomore campaign in 2021. As a true freshman, he also played in nine games at left tackle. As a senior, Harrison allowed just one sack and eight hurries in 862 snaps. For his career, he’s allowed just three total sacks in 1,866 snaps over three years. His athleticism is also one of his best traits and it allows him to get out and make blocks at the second level in the run game.
Taking a first-round tackle would be somewhat out of character for the Steelers, as they haven’t done so since they select Jamain Stephens in the first round at 29th overall in 1996. The team still has offensive tackles Dan Moore Jr. and Chukuwuma Okorafor under contract in 2023, although they could probably stand to make an upgrade, particularly at Moore’s post at left tackle. However, it’s certainly possible the team is pleased with Moore’s development and could want to give him one more year to prove he can stick as a starting tackle in the NFL.
That wouldn’t preclude the Steelers from drafting a tackle early, as while offensive linemen drafted early are usually selected to play immediately, the Steelers could draft Harrison and have him compete with Moore for the job. If Moore (or Okorafor) struggles or suffers an injury, Pittsburgh could have a high-caliber backup for a year who’s ready to take over as a starter in 2024.
This is also the first draft that will be fully run by Steelers general manager Omar Khan and assistant general manager Andy Weidl. Last May, Khan talked about his philosophy on roster construction.
“Without divulging too much of my philosophy, I’d say, you always want to get the guys that protect the quarterback and get the guys that get to the quarterback,” Khan said via the Jerry Hughes Podcast
That quote certainly lends credence to the idea that the Steelers could address the offensive line early in the draft. And if they do, Harrison could be a really nice fit in Pittsburgh as a big guy (6’5, 315 pounds) who has shown an elite ability to protect the quarterback with a lot of college experience at a major program.