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2024 NFL Draft

Buccaneers Tried to Trade Ahead of Steelers for Graham Barton

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got nervous the Pittsburgh Steelers would grab Graham Barton, and they tried to move ahead of them.

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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 may have selected a tackle in Troy Fautanu, but it certainly was not a formality that the team would avoid the center position in the first round. Instead, they could have taken Duke’s Graham Barton in the first round, who ended up going 26th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers got nervous that the Steelers would take Barton, however. And their general manager, Jason Licht, tried to jump up the board to land Barton instead of Pittsburgh, who was the obvious first team that presented a threat to take Barton.

“Well, I think you nailed it. It was at 20 there with Pittsburgh because I know how they value their offensive linemen. And I think they got a helluva pick there (versatile Troy Fautanu), too. But it was about then. And then we just kind of started to, once [Barton] got by the Dolphins I thought we had a shot. I was worried about the Cowboys there. They got good value trading out. And then when Philly came in there and took a corner, I thought we might have a shot here, a legit shot. And that’s the way it worked out. I couldn’t have turned that card in any quicker if I tried,” Licht said on SiriusXM.

Barton’s projected to be either a center or guard in the NFL. The Bucs needed help at center with Ryan Jensen retiring this offseason. 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.

The Steelers showed 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. Fautanu was too good to pass up for the Steelers, however. West Virginia center Zach Frazier ended up being the solution instead.