We are days away from the 2023 NFL Draft — and the annual SB Nation writers’ mock draft saved the best for last.
I had the honor of picking on behalf of the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 31 in Round 1 — after watching potential picks like wide receiver Zay Flowers and edge rusher Lukas Van Ness come off the board within reach of my selection.
Those two prospects two of Kansas City’s positions of need — but I went with another position that still needs to be filled:
With the 31st pick in the 2023 SB Nation NFL Mock Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select:
Anton Harrison, offensive tackle, Oklahoma
Harrison was a no-brainer pick for me. Ever since I first looked into this class of offensive tackles, he has been one of my favorite prospects. I only have Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Georgia’s Broderick Jones ranked higher among tackle prospects.
Here are a few of the things to like about Harrison:
Anton Harrison is a OT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 7.93 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 269 out of 1293 OT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/lbBg2KxxGN pic.twitter.com/w6sqIWIMDV— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 19, 2023
- Athletic testing and measurables. At the NFL Combine, Harrison measured in over 6 feet 4 and 315 pounds, pairing that with 34 1/8-inch arms to hit appropriate thresholds for an NFL offensive tackle. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds, a result that is in the historical 93rd percentile for offensive tackles.
- Starting experience. Harrison was listed as the team’s first-string left tackle heading into his true-freshman season in 2020. He wasn’t the starter for the entire year, but that blossomed into two seasons of being a full-time starter in 2021 and 2022. In total, Harrison accumulated 1,866 snaps at offensive tackle over three seasons. That is more than Broderick Jones and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. — the other two three-year college players at the top of this class. He has a great combination of youth and experience.
- Refined technique. At Oklahoma, Harrison was asked to do many different things while playing in two different offensive schemes over three seasons. That gave him experience in many aspects of offensive line play: traditional pass sets, zone blocking, pull blocks, and leading ball carriers in open space on screens. Over time, he has molded his technique to feature smooth footwork, correct hand placement and a wide enough base to make up for his current lack of mass and anchor.
I chose Harrison over prospects like defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, offensive tackle Dawand Jones, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and tight end Darnell Washington. The the first-round worthy wide receivers had all been selected — although wide receiver Joshua Downs was still on the board.
I believe this is very good value for Harrison. This is a top-heavy offensive tackle class, and Harrison is a part of that. In this mock draft, four offensive tackles had been selected by Pick 18. Harrison was the next off the board at 31. I don’t think Kansas City would gets that lucky again; one or two more could have be taken at that position before the end of the round.
DraftKings Sportsbook views wide receiver as the most likely target for the Chiefs at this spot with +150 odds, but that’s not the way this mock shook out. Offensive line is the third-most likely option for the Chiefs here with +300 odds, behind defensive line/EDGE with +200 odds.
The bottom line
There’s a debate about whether a defensive lineman or an offensive skill player makes more sense here — especially because the Chiefs already have an offensive line to feel pretty good about. But I value Kansas City’s ability to solidify protection for quarterback Patrick Mahomes on both edges of the pocket — both now and the future.
Harrison has the ability to develop and play right tackle — but it would make much more sense to push Jawaan Taylor back to his natural position on the right side, leaving Harrison as the Chiefs’ left tackle for the foreseeable future.