Unpacking Future Packers: No. 9, Duke OL Graham Barton

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2024 NFL draft.

The Green Bay Packers and Brian Gutekunst love versatile offensive linemen. Elgton Jenkins started games at left tackle, right tackle, center and left guard during his time at Mississippi State. Jon Runyan Jr started games at both tackle spots before kicking inside to guard when he landed in Green Bay. Royce Newman started games at left guard and right tackle. At Wake Forest, Zach Tom started games at left tackle and center.

A versatile offensive linemen that Gutekunst could target with the 25th overall pick on Thursday, is Graham Barton. The Duke offensive linemen checks in at No. 9 on the Unpacking Future Packers Countdown. 

A three-star recruit out of Tennessee, Barton started five games at center during his first season as a Blue Devil. Over the next three seasons, Barton started 34 games at left tackle. 

Barton plays with good knee bend and quick feet in pass protection. He has the lateral mobility to protect the corner.  The former three-star recruit has strong mitts, striking quickly and precisely.

The versatile offensive linemen is able to stay balanced through contact, showcasing a strong anchor against power. He has a high football IQ and is quick to react, playing with the savviness of a 10-year veteran. 

Barton’s anchor is one of the better ones in the 2024 NFL draft class among all offensive linemen,” Devin Jackson, the sports editor and NFL Draft writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer said. “Showing the strain and core strength to settle down bull rushes and speed to power conversions, his ability to handle different styles of pass rushers is impressive to watch.  Though he has average arm length, Barton has powerful, active hands to match a pass rushers placement, replacing them consistently to regain control of the rep. His pad level and ability to sink into his hips allows him to set in his anchor firmly as well.”

Barton is a good athlete and has outstanding range as a run blocker. He’s quick out of his stance to erase defenders. He keeps his legs driving at contact to create surge and open up running lanes. Barton is a finsher as a run blocker, playing with a bit of an edge. 

“Barton uses his strength to displace defenders at the point of attack while playing with an edge,” Jackson said. “He loves to finish blocks and dump players on the ground, requiring the necessary quickness and footspeed to work in outside zone schemes, evidenced by his athletic testing.”

Fit with the Packers

Barton screams Green Bay Packer. He offers five-position versatility. He could step in from day one and challenge Sean Rhyan for the starting right guard spot, while also challenging Josh Myers for the right to snap the ball to Jordan Love. While he has shorter arms than the Packers like for their tackles, he could kick outside and play tackle if needed.  

“Having tackle/center versatility, Barton is a player who projects to be more of an interior player at the NFL level, but enough athleticism and savvy to kick out to tackle in a pinch,” Jackson said. “He brings multi-positional versatility, plays with a nasty demeanor and has excellent technique as a pass protector. He can shore up an offensive line and be a plug-and-play starter right away.”

The Packers haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 2011. With his versatility, athleticism and age (22 in July). Barton is pro-ready and could be a plug-and-play starter at right guard or center. The Packers need to protect Love, and Barton could help take Green Bay’s offensive line to the next level. 

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire