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2024 NFL Draft

Draft Analyst Tabs Two Ideal Picks for Steelers



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Texas WR Adonai AD Mitchell

Wide receiver and center are two glaring needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the draft. As it stands now, they have a bottom-tier wide receiver corps and no center on the roster with extensive starting experience. It’s expected that these two positions will be addressed by the Steelers in at least the top three rounds.

Chad Reuter of recently did an exercise where he named two ideal picks for each team. For the Steelers, he has Pittsburgh selecting Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton at 20th overall and Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell at 51st overall.

“Barton played left tackle the last three years for the Blue Devils, but his intelligence, athleticism and willingness to finish blocks should allow him to excel at center, where he started his true freshman season due to health issues along the O-line. Mitchell’s a raw route-runner and can take the top off the defense with his 4.33 40 speed. The Steelers have been drawn to talented pass catchers who are available a bit later than their potential would indicate, so this seems like an excellent fit,” Reuter wrote.

Barton played center as a freshman for Duke before moving to left tackle. With shorter than average arms, most project him to move inside at the next level. Will that be center? Guard? Maybe even right tackle? Even Barton isn’t sure.

“I think that just speaks to my versatility,” he said at the NFL Combine. “I played center my true freshman year. I stepped in there due to some injuries. I think I did a pretty good job, especially considering my age. Then being able to bump back out to left tackle the next three years, I just think that was an example for me to be able to show my versatility. I think teams appreciate that. Offensive line is a violent position. A lot of things can happen. A lot of injuries throughout the year for every NFL team. Being able to have guys that can move positions and have that flexibility, teams value that and I think I bring that to the table.”

No matter where he plays, Barton provides a tantalizing combination of athleticism and technical abilities. He gave up just four sacks over his last two seasons at left tackle, and also made an impact as a punishing run blocker.

“Run blocking is fun, going at defenders instead of retreating,” Barton said. “Run blocking is about violence and about intensity. Run blocking is also an art form. You’ve got to have sound technique. You’ve got to have your hat in place. So to be able to do that, combine it with violence and create some space for our backs to get through. It’s fun. It’s a lot of the reason I play the game, to able to go at guys and just run my feet and try to finish defenders. It’s all over my tape. I play the game with passion. It’s how I feel about football.”

The Steelers have a pre-draft visit scheduled with Adonai Mitchell, according to a report by Mike DeFabo of The Athletic, continuing their interest in the top wide receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft class, and Mitchell specifically.

The Steelers have shown significant interest in Mitchell, holding a formal interview with him at the 2024 NFL Combine and also sending wide receivers coach Zach Azzani to the Texas pro day to scout Mitchell and fellow Longhorns receivers Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington.

Mitchell played just one season at Texas in 2023 after transferring from Georgia, and he broke out in a big way as a junior last fall. Mitchell caught 38 passes for 560 yards and seven touchdowns over two seasons at Georgia — including one playing behind current Steelers wide receiver George Pickens. Last year at Texas, he caught 55 passes for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading to an All-Big 12 selection.

At the 2024 NFL Combine, Mitchell was dominant, posting a 4.34-second 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical and an 11-foot-4 broad jump for a 9.99 Relative Athletic Score out of 10 — the highest rating in the entire 2024 NFL Draft class and one of the highest tested athleticism scores of all time.

Mitchell is anticipated to be a first-round pick, with his NFL Mock Draft Database average currently at No. 28 overall, making him likely to be available when the Steelers pick at No. 20 in the first round. Mitchell is also a potential option for the Steelers as a trade-back in the first round.