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The Bucs fill one of their biggest needs by beefing up the offensive line

With the 26th pick in the SB Nation writers’ mock draft, the Tampa Bay Bucs select offensive lineman Graham Barton out of Duke.

The way things played out in this draft, it appeared that the top edge rushers I was targeting were going to come close to falling into my lap. Unfortunately, Laiatu Latu went 19th, Jared Verse went two picks later at 21, then Oregon offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson went 24th — but that left the No. 1 interior offensive lineman on my board to fall to me with the plug-and-play starter from the Blue Devils.

Barton is PFF’s seventh ranked offensive lineman in the draft and their 23rd ranked prospect overall. After playing thirteen games in 2022, Barton played in just nine games last season and played every collegiate snap at left tackle — though he’s projected to move to the interior at the NFL level. There’s going to be a learning curve there, but Barton’s athletic profile is off the charts;

Baker Mayfield, for all he did well last season, had a big issue with having to escape numerous sacks and keep plays alive due to the struggles of the interior protection. Matt Feiler and Aaron Stinnie both spent time at left guard with neither doing an overly good job. While rookie Cody Mauch held his own on the right side for the majority of the season, he wasn’t without some rough patches. This caused Robert Hainsey to have a huge drop off at center compared to his 2022 season.

Now, with the addition of Barton, the offensive line gets a huge upgrade both in terms of protection for Baker Mayfield as well as creating running lanes for Rachaad White.

Now, there is the outside possibility the Bucs see Barton as more of a center with his 6’5, 315-pound frame — and if that’s how they view him it would allow Hainsey to return to guard, which is where he excelled while at Notre Dame. Either way, it’s a big-time upgrade for the Bucs along the trenches and should bring an overall boost to the offense now run by Liam Coen.

The Bucs would still need to address the pass rush in some way on Day 2 as they head into NFL Draft weekend with four picks in the top 100. With pass rush, wide receiver, running back, and cornerback still being important needs, they’ll have some decisions to make as to who and what positions they’re going to prioritize.

Our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook currently have Barton’s odds of being the third offensive lineman taken off the board at +4000 — the seventh highest odds. That bodes well for Bucs fans hoping he falls to them at pick 26.

In consideration for me at this pick were also cornerbacks Nate Wiggins and Kool-Aid McKinstry as well as edge rusher Chop Robinson, but it really boiled down to the trenches and Barton is currently more plug-and-play ready than Robinson is. And while Robinson has a high upside, he’s not the polished product Verse or Latu were at the same position nor what Barton is the moment he walks through the door.

Let us know in the comments what you think of the addition of offensive lineman Graham Barton to the Bucs or if you would have gone in a different direction!

By admin