Duke football star offensive lineman lands with NFC Championship contender

The Blue Devil offensive lineman will have a chance to play on opening day
Nov 27, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA;  Duke football offensive tackle Graham Barton (62)
Nov 27, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke football offensive tackle Graham Barton (62) / Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke football program is back in the NFL Draft.

Blue Devil offensive lineman Graham Barton was the No. 26 overall pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. He will be tasked with protecting Baker Mayfield next season.

Barton will have the opportunity to start from opening day for the Buccaneers after the organization has been looking for a starting center since the retirement of Pro Bowler Ryan Jensen.

Barton becomes the first Duke player to be drafted since 2021 and the first Blue Devil selected in the first round since Daniel Jones was the No. 6 overall pick of the New York Giants in 2019.

It's not certain whether or not Barton will play center in the NFL. He is versatile, starting at center during his freshman season with the Blue Devils before being converted to a left tackle later in his career.

He also played guard at points in his college tenure.

Barton started 39-of-40 games played in his Duke career and was named to the All-American team twice as well as the First Team All-ACC. There were seven offensive lineman selected before the Duke prospect, who many had projected as a Top-25 pick.

He put together a 9.99 Relative Athletic Score, which is out of a possible 10.00, and it's the second best score ever for an offensive guard draft prospect since 1987.

ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. believes that Graham Barton was a steal in the first round and could be a multi-year Pro Bowler and All-Pro in his NFL career.

Many draft analysts have said that Barton is one of the safer picks of the NFL Draft and a prospect that will give a team multiple years of elite offensive line play, as long as he stays healthy.

Duke defensive end DeWayne Carter should be the next player selected in the NFL Draft, likley coming on the third day of the event.