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2024 NFL Draft

Graham Barton Viewed as Generational-Type Player by Steelers



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect OL Graham Barton

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.”

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.”

Former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also thinks the Steelers need to address offensive line, specifically at center.

“You just got two quarterbacks. That should be your start. It feels like they’ve been trying to rebuild the line, but in unique ways. Start with the line. If there’s a good center or tackle… Maybe take the first two. To me it starts and stops with the line,” Roethlisberger said on the WDVE Morning Show. “…Tackles are important as they’re protecting your blindside. You can put in tight-ends to help a tackle. A center has to be a guy. He’s making your calls. Your center and quarterback have to work together. You saw how Pounce and I worked together. If you’re not on the same page with your center… You’re in trouble.”

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger is also on the Graham Barton to Pittsburgh train. He thinks he would be a dream scenario for the Black and Gold.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers know how to draft centers. They got a bunch of them in the Hall of Fame. Center is a position of need. There’s no question about it,” Baldinger said during a draft debate on NFL Total Access last week. “Last year, they started the (offensive line) rebuilding process with drafting Broderick Jones, trading up to get him. (Getting) Isaac Seumalo. I think they have to finish it. Mason Cole has been released, Nate Herbig is the only center on the roster.

“But, I like Graham Barton at Duke. You’ll see him at left tackle, but he started as a freshman (in) his final five games at center. And I think a lot of teams project him as a center. I think he’s just more athletic than Jackson Powers-Johnson. I think the Steelers value the athletic ability like they did with Dermontti Dawson, a bunch of other guys that Pittsburgh had great success with. So, I’m going with Graham Barton at center with the 20th pick, and I think the starts the run-on (with) centers in this first round.”

Baldinger also appeared on 93.7 The Fan last week and expressed that Barton’s athleticism is what separates him from the rest of this year’s center class.

“I don’t believe he’s gonna be an elite left tackle. I think he could be a Pro Bowl guard. But I think he could be a really good center,” Baldinger said. “I like him because I think can run better than anybody else. I think he pulls and leads better, and I think he gets to the second level better than all those other centers do. I feel like that’s the position where he’s gonna be best suited in the NFL.”

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.