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Steelers Film Room: Analyzing OT Ryan Harris run blocking skills

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We take a look at the tape on the recently added Steeler, tackle Ryan Harris, and his run blocking abilities.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Our last article on Ryan Harris focused on his pass blocking skills and how he struggled with defenders once engaged. Harris was an adequate left tackle for the Denver Broncos, but he has some big shoes to fill if he wants to effectively replace Kelvin Beachum and unseat Alejandro Villanueva on the depth chart for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Part of what could help him to do just that would be if he can show consistency in training camp and build confidence among the team that he can protect Ben Roethlisberger's blind spot, as well as seal edges in the ground game.

Since we have already covered tape on Harris' pass protection, we focus on tape in his run blocking skills.

vs. Jared Allen in Super Bowl 50

Jared Allen was a shell of his former self in 2015, but he was still an effective defensive end for the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. Nevertheless, Harris uses a solid reach step here to force Allen out of the hole and give C.J. Anderson the proper space to gain a first down on this play.

What is to like on this play is how Harris keeps his feet moving the whole play and that ends up being what allows him to drive Allen away and create the seal needed to finish the job. What is troublesome is where he puts his hands; he gets the job done here, but just as he does in pass protection, he does not do a solid job of engaging defenders with his hands and using them to control his assignment.

Let's take a look at when that has come back to bite his team.

Jarvis Jones block-shed vs. Harris

You can see here that Harris' feet are well placed and he is even able to get his hands on Jarvis Jones to establish position. However Jones still finds a way to rip through Harris' position with his arms and made a tackle on C.J. Anderson for only a one-to-two yard gain.

Harris needs to be stronger in his upper body and deny Jones the inside on this play so Anderson can fit into the gap. Again, this seems to be a consistent problem for Harris in his tape; he gets in good position but fails to dominate his opponent with strong upper body techniques. He must improve this if he wishes to keep a job in Pittsburgh.

Blocking at the second level

This play was not a good showing for Harris as it looked like he was in a zone blocking scheme, but committed too hard to the outside and allowed his man to work inside of him and make a tackle for no gain. Harris is coming to another team that uses zone blocking schemes and will be looking to dominate teams with the prowess of Le'Veon Bell. There are times he is going to be asked to block at the second level and lock down a linebacker in open space to secure a hole for a running back and he is going to need to do better than what he showed here for Pittsburgh.

Technique work with Munchak

Steelers' offensive line coach, Mike Munchak, has revolutionized the way that this team's offensive line has played in recent years. He's helped make David DeCastro a Pro Bowl caliber player and coached Marcus Gilbert to be one of the better tackles in the NFL, all while overseeing undrafted players such as Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster and Cody Wallace become effective players in the Steelers' ground scheme.

There is no reason to think that Mike Munchak would not be able to get Harris up to par with what the Steelers expect of him at the left tackle position. Time with Harris could make him a valid backup for times when Pittsburgh might lose Gilbert or Villanueva should Harris not win the starting spot.

Once training camp rolls around, keep your eyes and ears peeled for offensive line work and how Harris does during the preseason. This could determine how the team proceeds at the position for the next few years.

See Part One of this two-part series focused on Ryan Harris' pass blocking skills.