Why Jeremiah believes Duke O-lineman is 49ers draft fit at No. 31

Why Jeremiah believes Duke O-lineman is 49ers draft fit at No. 31 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah envisions the 49ers addressing the offensive line with their No. 31 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In his latest mock draft, Jeremiah has San Francisco selecting Duke University left tackle Graham Barton with its first-round selection, with the caveat that he would slide into a guard position with the 49ers at the next level.

During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Jeremiah was asked about his thought process behind the 49ers investing a first-round pick into an interior offensive lineman -- which generally is not a common occurrence for NFL teams.

"I don't necessarily think that's too high," Jeremiah explained about the prospect of the 49ers taking Barton in the first round. "He started a ton of games. He's played center. I think that's where his ultimate best position is going to be is at center. He can play anywhere. Obviously recently having played left tackle.

"I don't think that's crazy. I would say when you look at the interior guys in this draft, there's other options too. I have done more work since my initial top-50 list came out.

"I'll end up having [Oregon center] Jackson Powers-Johnson over Graham Barton, but I really like Graham Barton too and I like [West Virginia University center] Zach Frazier. I think all three of those guys would be plug and play guys.

"I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but they're [49ers] [in] win now, let's go mode, and I think these guys -- those three interior guys are plug and play for me."

Barton has extensive experience along the offensive line, beginning his Duke career as a center during his freshman season before moving to left tackle during his final three collegiate campaigns.

The Duke product logged over 2,500 snaps during his college career, per Pro Football Focus, bringing a wealth of experience that leads Jeremiah to believe he could contribute right away for a 49ers team built to contend immediately.

The 2024 NFL Draft marks the first time the 49ers have a first-round selection since taking quarterback Trey Lance No. 3 overall in 2021.

San Francisco has not selected an offensive lineman in the first round since it took Notre Dame product Mike McGlinchey No. 9 overall in the 2018 draft.

After issues on the interior offensive line contributed to San Francisco falling just shy of Super Bowl glory, perhaps a pick like Barton could be exactly what the 49ers need as they aim to retool for another shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the 2024 NFL season.

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