Graham Barton didn't expect to be available when Bucs picked in Round 1

Thank goodness he was!
NFL Combine
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In back-to-back years it seems the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off a masterclass in keeping their NFL Draft cards close enough to the chest that things worked out in their favor. Last season they came seemingly out of nowhere to draft Calijah Kancey and this year did the same thing with Graham Barton.

The only difference seems to be that Kancey wasn't as heralded as Barton was, but the Bucs landed him all the same without needing to move up.

Barton was on the radar of a few teams but ended up falling all the way to No. 26 and right into Tampa Bay's lap. Most mocks had the Bucs taking either Jackson Powers-Johnson or an edge rusher, but Barton was impossible to pass up.

That much was clear based on how fast Tampa Bay turned in its card on Thursday, since no one was expecting Barton to be available that late in the first round.

Graham Barton thought he might have been a Top 20 pick in NFL Draft

Barton was interviewed on WDAE this weekend and got the indication from the pre-Draft process that he might have been long gone by the time Tampa Bay got on the clock.

“Sort of [Picks Nos.] 15, 16 and back, I had interacted with pretty much every team,” Barton said. “So, you know, didn’t really know where I was going to end up but, you know, I definitely thought I had a good chance to go in that back half of the first round.”

Thankfully for the Bucs, Barton very much was available outside of the Top 20 and they happily stopped his fall. With none of the teams other Top 100 picks spent on offensive lineman, the plan seems to be playing Barton at center where he'll take over for Ryan Jensen.

Those are huge shoes to fill, but all indications are that Barton has what it takes to step up. Licht mentioned that the versatility he brings -- with the ability to play tackle or guard -- also adds value and creates some options for the team moving forward.

All that matters now is that the Bucs landed Barton in the first round and can walk away from the draft knowing the biggest area of need was addressed in th ebest way possible.

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