How will Graham Barton help improve Buccaneers offensive line?

Graham Barton, the No. 26 pick in the 2024 NFL draft, will play a pivotal role on the Buccaneers' offensive line in his rookie season
Clemson v Duke
Clemson v Duke / Lance King/GettyImages

After months of talk, speculation, and countless analysis and breakdowns, the NFL Draft is officially underway. On Thursday, the draft kicked off with the highly anticipated first round, which included an NFL-record 22 offensive players selected and six quarterbacks picked in the top 12 picks and

Thanks to all of that chaos, some unexpected top prospects at the offensive line and cornerback positions dropped to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the No. 26 pick.

Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton, who was one of the top offensive lineman prospects in the entire draft, ended up being the pick. Much like with Calijah Kancey last year, Jason Licht said that Barton was the pick all along which means the Bucs are going to rely on him heavily to try and fix what has been an otherwise disappointing offensive line the last two years.

Tampa Bay seems to have landed one of the safest picks in the draft, but now the question is how will he fit?

How will Graham Barton help fix Buccaneers offensive line?

Making 39 career starts (34 at left tackle and five at center) at Duke, Barton continued to get better each and every season on the Blue Devils' offensive line. In nine starts this past season, Barton allowed just nine quarterback hurries and two sacks in 496 snaps, equating to a solid 75.9 PFF grade.

During the previous season, Barton was just as, if not better, giving up just eight quarterback hits and two sacks in 896 snaps and 13 starts for a stout 88.2 PPF grade. Based on this, Barton is a two-time All-American and All-ACC First Team honoree, while winning Duke's Offensive Lineman of the Year Award in back-to-back seasons.

Now in Tampa Bay, Barton will play a key role on the Buccaneers' offensive line. Excluding star left tackle Tristan Wirfs, o-linemen rotated in the starting roles at every other position on the line, with 27-year-old tackle Justin Skule, 29-year-old guard Aaron Stinnie, and 31-year-old guard Matt Feiler all playing major roles on the offensive line.

Coupled with the struggle some play of right guard Cody Mauch and right tackle Luke Goedeke, and offensive line was a huge area of need for Tampa Bay. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, Barton is their guy and has the unique ability to play at all five spots on the line.

At 6'5" and 314 pounds, Barton has an advanced understanding of how to win leverage on defenders with positioning, pad level and good quickness to get into initial fits on time. Throughout his time at Duke, Barton showed good hand placement with excellent grip strength to sustain, steer, and finish blocks at a high level to create rush lanes off of his backside in the zone run game.

For his size, Barton has pretty solid athleticism, with a 4.97 40-yard dash and a 7.31 three-cone drill, and with his technical proficiency and excellent movement, Barton is able to seize land as a blocker even if he does it more by finesse than brute strength.

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