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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers May Have New Favorite First Round Pick in Graham Barton

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have a new favorite for their first round pick in Duke’s Graham Barton, who is checking boxes.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Graham Barton

The Pittsburgh Steelers are already hot on the trail and preparing for the 2024 NFL Draft. The draft board is becoming more transparent with the Pro Day circuit ending and the NFL Draft nearly a week away. Looking back, Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith made a key trip to Duke Pro Day to watch Graham Barton. And now, they are hosting him for a pre-draft visit on Tuesday.

And according to Tony Pauline the speculation is that the Steelers will end up landing Barton at 20th overall.

“Speculation from people in the league familiar with the organization is that Graham Barton of Duke will likely be the pick,” Pauline wrote. “The reasoning is simple: Barton was an accomplished offensive tackle at Duke and projects to be a center in the NFL. The Steelers need help at both positions and Barton’s ability to line up at either makes him attractive.”

In the past Barton has played at left tackle and center, but he played at center in 2020. That is only one year of experience, though most teams say Barton will shift inside. The Steelers are unlikely to draft a guy who will project as a guard, so if they draft Barton, it will be because they view him as an interior offensive lineman or believe he can stick it out at tackle. According to Field Yates of ESPN, Barton is stamped as a first round pick, right in the Steelers range.

“Graham Barton, he’s an unimpeachable first round pick. I might have been too low on Barton with him at 20th overall. But I think that’s the range, though, somewhere in the first part of the second half of the first round.”

And he showed out at his pro day. Scouts had him marked at between a 4.94 to 4.97 40-yard dash, while he posted a 4.55 20-yard Shuttle time and 7.31 3-Cone time at his size. In other words, Barton tested like an elite athlete. And that could absolutely boost his stock, especially with so many teams that need interior offensive linemen in the class. All of that makes him a possible pick at 20th overall, especially when he is five-position versatile.

He’s a talented, smooth mover. And Barton, with all of his experience, has become one of the more polished players in this class. You can compare him closely to Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski from the 2023 NFL Draft. But his potential center capabilities make him extremely intriguing for a team like Pittsburgh if they believe they are stuck in between where Jackson Powers-Johnson and Zach Frazier will land.

And now, Barton checks lots of boxes. The pre-draft visit box, and of course, Smith being there for his pro day. There are a lot of positive trends moving in his direction. If they are going to break the pro day streak, this is the type of profile the GU needs.

Barton’s tape is fantastic. It is more about where he actually ends up playing, but many teams have projected him as a center. That’s not a surprise, but keep it in mind that the Steelers are all about versatility along the offensive line and Barton checks that box with flying colors. It does at least open up the possibility of picking Barton and pushing James Daniels to center, too, though it would be likelier that Barton would be the one to slot in there.

With Pittsburgh having so many questions about the center position, Barton might be the most ready to start from day one player out of anyone in that group, even with the lack of true center experience, his technique should be able to play at any spot.