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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Profile: Experienced, Explosive Graham Barton a Versatile Option



Pittsburgh Steelers Graham Barton
Graham Barton, Duke Athletics

INDIANAPOLIS — Duke left tackle Graham Barton will probably be picked in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft later this month. He probably won’t be a left tackle for the team that drafts him. Every other position? They all remain on the table.

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. “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.”

Because of the pending position change, a lot of what teams are trying to do with Barton right now is project where he might fit best. His experience early in his career at center has him ready to expect what’s to come.

“You go from blocking speedy edge guys to big, thick defensive tackles. So obviously, it’s a little different. It’s a little bit of a different game. Angles are different. Hand placement can sorta very. It’s a little different, but it’s something I’ve done and I think I’ve done it well. … (Snapping the ball), It’s like riding a bike. 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.”

If it’s center, that position will come with more mental work, something that Barton said he’s also ready to handle.

“You’ve got to identify fronts. You’ve got to get everyone on the same page. You’ve got to flip protections when things happens. You’ve got to command the huddle. You’re in charge of getting the offensive line in the right positions and to be successful. Center is very complex. You’re the second quarterback of the offense.”

Part of that confidence came from his Duke education — he said he’s set to graduate in May — and part comes from his long collegiate career. Compared to fellow potential first-rounder Amarius Mims from Georgia, Barton is positively ancient in football terms. Mims is in the draft after making eight collegiate starts. Barton has 39 under his belt.

“A lot of experience,” he said. “It was a blessing in my career to be able to go in and get some starts my true freshman year and then the next three years to start the entirety of the season. I’ve played a lot of football, seen a lot of things, made a lot of mistakes, improved on a lot of mistake. Being able to go through those growing pains as an offensive lineman and a football player at an early age is really important. It helped me, my maturity, my understanding of the game, and adds onto that versatility.”


Measured at the NFL Combine: 6-foot-5 3/8, 313 pounds, 32 7/8-inch arms, 79 3/4-inch wingspan, 9 3/8-inch hands

Tested at the Duke pro day: 4.97-second 40-yard dash, 4.55-second shuttle, 7.31-second three-cone drill, did not jump

RAS: As center, 10.00, as guard, 9.99, as tackle, 9.85

Graham Barton RAS


Barton’s draft stock has been very consistent throughout the process. Since January, it hasn’t risen higher than 23rd overall and it hasn’t fallen lower than 30th overall, according to NFL Mock Draft Database.

That puts Barton firmly in contention for the Steelers in a first round trade-back scenario, and also on the edge of his range at No. 20 overall, though the team not bringing him in for a top 30 pre-draft visit or sending Omar Khan or Mike Tomlin to his pro day does not suggest he’s a likely fit at No. 20.


Barton can fit almost anywhere based on his versatility and the overall quality of his play, but his fit with the Steelers is actually a bit harder to suss out.

He could be an option at right tackle, but his arm length is short of their usual standard for that position. He could fit in at center, but hasn’t regularly played that position since his freshman season. With the Steelers needing someone to be a day one starter at that position, would they want a repeat of 2021, when Kendrick Green was handed the job after playing guard in college and was unable to successfully make the transition?

Barton’s best fit at the NFL level might be at guard, but the Steelers do not have an immediate need there, with Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels both returning. If he’s a fit for the Steelers, it could be almost anywhere.

Derrick Bell provided reporting from Indianapolis.