Steelers High On OL Graham Barton, Eyeing Broderick Jones Shift To LT

The Steelers have two starter-caliber tackles, having drafted one of them (Broderick Jones) in last year’s first round. But the team did not replace February cap casualty Mason Cole. Center sits as an obvious need for Pittsburgh.

Linked to wanting to come away from the draft with center and tackle additions, the Steelers brought 11 offensive linemen in on “30” visits. One of them is generating significant interest as the draft nears. Some in the building view Duke prospect Graham Barton as a “generational”-type player, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.

Although Barton spent the past three seasons as the Blue Devils’ starting left tackle, he played center as a freshman. The 6-foot-5, 313-pound blocker is expected to return to center to start his pro career, and the Steelers appear a live candidate to select the former Duke mainstay at No. 20. This would be an interesting choice, with Barton having just five starts at center while in college. But he sits 22nd on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board; teams also have regularly converted tackles to inside players at the sport’s top level.

Cole started every Steelers game at center over the past two seasons, coming in after the team did not like former third-rounder Kendrick Green‘s progress. The Steelers could shift James Daniels back to center, where he spent some time in Chicago, but it does not appear that is the preferred option.

This draft is flooded with tackle prospects, with Jeremiah’s big board including seven in the top 25. With tackle a more valuable position, the Steelers passing on options at that spot to fill a need stands to generate a healthy debate in their war room — depending on which tackles the team likes and how the board looks at 20, barring a trade-up maneuver. The Cowboys, who sit at No. 24, are also interested in Barton.

Additionally, the Steelers do appear to be planning to switch Jones from right to left tackle. Earlier this offseason, Dulac predicted Jones — Georgia’s left tackle in 2022 — would move to the blindside post after spending most of his rookie year at RT. The veteran reporter adds the Steelers could prioritize a right tackle due to a desire to shift Jones to the left side. Dan Moore has operated as the Steelers’ LT starter for three seasons, but he is going into a contract year. Pro Football Focus has also continually given the former fourth-round pick low marks, though teams obviously do not use that as a surefire measuring tool.

Pittsburgh has Daniels, Jones and Isaac Seumalo entrenched as starters, and Moore has proven durable during his career. But two new blockers may be en route early in this draft. As Russell Wilson (or perhaps Justin Fields) prepares to take over, the Steelers’ line could certainly be upgraded from 2023.

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