Mel Kiper Jr. confidently predicts Steelers top pick in tonight's NFL Draft

Mel Kiper Jr. thinks we can end the discussion now; He's confident who Pittsburgh's first-round pick will be tonight.
2018 NFL Draft
2018 NFL Draft / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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The moment we've all been waiting for is almost here. This evening, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will take center stage in Detroit to officially begin the 2024 NFL Draft. Football fans everywhere will be on the edge of their seat, and we will count down the time until the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock.

With Day 1 of the NFL Draft kicking off tonight, draft experts have taken a stab at predicting who each team will select in Round 1. Mel Kiper Jr. took it one step further by sharing his notes, buzz, and predictions for the first round.

One of his predictions he feels confident about is that the Steelers will select Graham Barton in the first round. Kiper noted Pittsburgh's need for a long-term center as well as the connection between the team and this prospect. He went as far as to say that Mike Tomlin could even 'trade up a few spots' to make sure they secure Barton tonight in the draft.

Steelers and Graham Barton are a perfect match

It's not hard to see why Mel Kiper Jr. included this as one of his eight predictions for the 2024 NFL Draft. Barton has been gaining steam in connection with the Steelers for obvious reasons.

Though Barton was the starting left tackle for Duke over the past three seasons, he played center for the Blue Devils as a freshman in 2020, and his lack of length suggests that he will be best at center or guard in the NFL.

In addition to popping on film with his quick feet and physical demeanor, Barton tested as a 99.9 percentile athlete compared to NFL guards, and a perfect 100th percentile athlete when compared to NFL centers, according to RAS.football.

Barton checks a ton of boxes that the Steelers look for in a first-round pick. He's got experience, athleticism, and youth (doesn't turn 22 until June). He also comes with intriguing position flexibility and can play most spots across the offensive line.

Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims has been another name frequently associated with the Steelers. If Pittsburgh wants a true right tackle to pair with Broderick Jones and allow their 2023 first-round pick to move back to left tackle, he would fit the bill.

Still, the buzz over Graham Barton is undeniable at this point. Mel Kiper Jr. joins Dane Brugler, Field Yates, Lance Zierlein, Albert Breer, and Trevor Sikkema as NFL Draft experts who have slated the Duke offensive lineman to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their final 2024 mock drafts.

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