Tampa Bay rookie Graham Barton will begin his NFL career at center

The Buccaneers began the offseason hoping to improve their run game after ranking last in the NFL in rushing average the past two seasons.

They averaged only 88.8 yards per game last season.

“For us, all the message has been is, how do we get better? How do we take the next step from good to great?” Bucs offensive coordinator Liam Coen said Monday, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “Then, obviously, first and foremost is fixing and getting better in the run game.”

The Bucs used their first-round draft pick on Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton, who will begin his career competing with Robert Hainsey at center.

“We’ll definitely start him off at center and see how he handles everything,” Coen said. “There’s a lot of communication and things that can occur with the quarterback and the rest of the unit. We’ll see how that communication goes, but we feel confident he’ll be able to do some of those things. But if not, hey, we’ll slide him over to guard and give him a shot there as well.”

Barton started five games at center as a freshman but spent the past three seasons at left tackle.