Buccaneers Could Cap ‘Best Offseason’ By Drafting Versatile OL

Graham Barton

Getty Duke University center Graham Barton.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have earned plaudits for their stellar offseason — they could finish things off by having a stellar showing at the 2024 NFL Draft.

Good Morning Football host Peter Schrager released his final mock draft the morning of April 25 and singled out the Buccaneers for their recent success and added a versatile offensive lineman to the mix with their first-round pick.

Schrager has the Buccaneers taking Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton at No. 26 overall.

“Tampa might’ve had the best offseason of any team in the league to this point, retaining many key assets from last year’s Divisional Round squad,” Schrager wrote. “Offensive line is still an area of need, though. Barton played tackle and center at Duke — he could do either in the NFL.”

Barton, 6-foot-5 and 313 pounds, was a two-time All-American and two-time All-ACC selection over his last two seasons in 2022 and 2023.

Graham Barton Could Play Multiple Positions

NFL.com gave Barton a 6.46 prospect rating, which indicates he will be a good starter within two years and NFL analyst Lance Zierlein gave Barton a glowing review in his pre-draft evaluation.

“Reviewing Barton’s tape is a pleasurable experience in offensive line evaluation, as his tenacity and know-how are on full display throughout,” Zierlein wrote. :Though he played at a high level at left tackle, center will likely be his NFL home. Barton is an explosive drive blocker with the body control and leg drive to keep opponents centered and finish the job. His hands are sudden, accurate and strong in both phases, but a lack of length will create occasional challenges on the next level.

“His fluidity creates an advantage as a second-level climber, and he’s highly capable in the screen game. Barton’s technique, toughness and athleticism are exactly what teams will be looking for from an early starter with Pro Bowl potential.”

Barton started 39 consecutive games at left tackle for Duke — he only played in 40 games total — but missed the last four games of his college career with a lower body injury.

Could Barton Replace Retired Center Ryan Jensen?

The Buccaneers have a huge void on the offensive line the last two seasons without center Ryan Jensen, who missed the entire 2022 regular season with a knee injury but returned for a playoff game then missed the entire 2023 regular season with a knee injury before he retired in Feb. 2024.

Jensen’s last two full seasons with the Buccaneers he was as good as any center in the NFL, helping lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl win in 2020 and being named to his only Pro Bowl in 2021.

“Barton’s five-position versatility is one of the top differentiators on his profile,” wrote Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings. “He has experience at both tackle and center, and his combination of athleticism, power, flexibility, footwork feel, anchor strength, football IQ, and physicality allows him to seamlessly transition between roles.

“Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, where does Barton translate best? His arm length is average at best, and that’s often been a factor when tackles move to guard in the NFL.”

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