NFL Draft analyst spills the beans on Steelers draft plans in Round 1

One draft analyst reveals 'insider' notes on who Pittsburgh will select in Round 1, but is this player high on their draft radar?
NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Kara Durrette/GettyImages

One prominent NFL Draft analyst has leaked the Pittsburgh Steelers first-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft... or so he thinks. We've reached the point in the offseason where insider talk is all the buzz. Needless to say, this has our attention.

On April 15th, NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda shared his insider notes. One of those notes was about going 'inside Steelers' plans' for the 2024 NFL Draft.

While offensive tackle has been the focal point based on Pittsburgh's pre-draft interests, Pauline believes that the Steelers are fixing to draft Duke offensive lineman, Graham Barton.

"Speculation from people in the league familiar with the organization is that Graham Barton of Duke will likely be the pick. The reasoning is simple: Barton was an accomplished offensive tackle at Duke and projects to center in the NFL. The Steelers need help at both positions, and Barton's ability to line ip[ at either makes him very attractive."

Tony Pauline, Sportskeeda

Barton would make perfect sense for the Pittsburgh Steelers because of the reasons Pauline listed. He has experience at both center and offensive tackle in college, and some view him as the top center prospect in the class as he makes the transition to the interior offensive line at the next level.

There's a lot to love about Barton's game. He looks to punish defenders on every rep and he has the physical mentality you want in an offensive lineman. Barton is also an incredible athlete who can move laterally as well as any offensive lineman in this class. This could make him a perfect fit as a center in Pittsburgh's wide zone offense under Arthur Smith.

The question becomes: how much truth is there to this 'speculation'?

Is Graham Barton on the Steelers' draft radar?

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a formal meeting with Graham Barton at the NFL Combine. But that's about the extent of their pre-draft interest in the talented Duke offensive lineman. Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan were not present for Duke's Pro Day despite no scheduling conflicts, and the Steelers did not bring him in for a Top 30 pre-draft visit.

By my count based on the information available to the public, the Steelers have used 29 of their 30 pre-draft visits (excluding local visits). This means that, unless Barton earns the final visit when the deadline ends on April 17th, he is highly unlikely to be on the Steelers' draft radar.

Based on history, Pittsburgh only selects players in the first round that Mike Tomlin and the general manager have met with at their Pro Day. With Pittsburgh's brass attending just four Pro Days this year, the pool of players who could be selected in Round 1 is narrowed tremendously.

While new front office heads Omar Khan and Andy Weidl may be willing to break this trend, it's not a promising sign that Barton will be the selection after only seeing him once at the NFL Combine. If he truly were an option at pick 20 for the Steelers, they likely would have used a Top 30 visit to meet with him to ensure that everything checks out.

Tony Pauline could end up being right on Pittsburgh's selection, but when you follow the trail of breadcrumbs when it comes to the Steelers' pre-draft interests, it does not lead to Graham Barton.

You can check out our full 2024 Steelers visit tracker here.

Update: Steelers met with Graham Barton for a pre-draft visit on April 16th, per Ray Fittipaldo.