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2024 NFL Draft

Breer: Graham Barton to Go Between Steelers and Cowboys Picks

The Pittsburgh Steelers could end up landing Graham Barton, according to Albert Breer, but there could be a sleeper pick, too.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Graham Barton
Pittsburgh, PA - November 19, 2022: The Pitt Panthers football team hosts the Duke Blue Devils at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh - Credit: Jeffrey Gamza

The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be set on drafting an offensive linemen in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. However, whether that is a tackle or center remains to be seen, and two candidates are rising above the rest Graham Barton and Amarius Mims.

Barton is an impressive player on film, and though many are projecting him to move positions because his lack of length leaves him in trouble on the outside at tackle, many believe he is a special talent who could play center. Former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, who helps the Steelers out with some scouting services, weighed in on Barton.

“This is what I think about when I think about Graham Barton — you mix a grizzly bear, you put in a ballerina, and you put in a lion,” Taylor said on the Bleav in Steelers Podcast. “Those people don’t come around too often.”

Mel Kiper said on Thursday that he believes the Steelers will select the NFL’s consensus top center in the class, Duke’s Graham Barton, at 20th overall.

” Barton, my top-ranked center, has been a hot name in my calls with execs and coaches over the past week. People in the league think he’ll be really good immediately at the next level. Pittsburgh, which picks at No. 20 and has had big-time centers throughout its history, is the team most linked with Barton (Duke). I don’t think it’s out of the question Mike Tomlin & Co. trade up a few spots to make sure they get him,” Kiper wrote.

Longtime Steelers beat writer Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is hearing that the Steelers think Barton is a generational-type player. This has been confirmed by Steelers Now.

“It has been said to me by someone in the organization who would know that Graham Barton is a generational-type player,” Dulac said during an appearance on the Steve Jones Show. “If that’s what you think, then you take a generational-type player. Those type of players are Pro Bowl players. Those guys are guys you build your line around for 10 years like Maurkice Pouncey. You took Maurkice Pouncey at 18. There’s nothing wrong with taking that type of  player at 20 if you believe in him. And if he is what they think he is, then to me, why would you pass him up? You just wouldn’t because that is your number one need.”

Now, Albert Breer is backing up much of the Barton hype, stating he will go between No. 20 and No. 24.

“My guess would be that he winds up going somewhere between Pittsburgh at No. 20 and Dallas at No. 24. In both cases, I think the teams would probably take a tackle, if one they really liked fell to them (Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton might be that guy for either team). If Barton goes at 20, Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson could be in play for Dallas at 24.),” Breer wrote.

The Guyton note is interesting, but this continues to line up for Barton to potentially be the pick.

Barton played center as a freshman at Duke before moving to left tackle. With shorter arms than a typical NFL tackle, most teams are set to move him inside, and Barton did most of his positional drills at center, the interior position that he has played the most.

“(Snapping the ball), It’s like riding a bike,” he said at the NFL Combine. “You pick it back up. It’s a learned skill. Once you have that skill, you carry on. Definitely obviously going to keep working on that and being ready to go at any position and whatever a team needs from me. It’s certainly something to drill and work on and have ready to go.”

The Steelers have shown significant interest in Barton. They met with him formally at the combine, brought him in for a pre-draft visit and sent offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to his pro day.

Barton is considered to be a late Round 1 draft pick, with his current NFL Mock Draft Database average at No. 27 overall. The Steelers pick at No. 20, so they could be one of the earlier teams looking at Barton, or they could be considering him as a trade-back option.