Perfect first-round target couldn't be any more obvious for Packers

NFL Combine
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Upgrading the offensive line is a top priority for the Green Bay Packers in this month's NFL Draft. There is an opening at right guard, and the Packers lack depth and competition at all five positions. Fortunately, they can go a long way to fixing that this month.

The Packers could go in several different directions on the opening night of the draft.

Trade up for a cornerback? That could be in play. Add a chess piece to the secondary like Iowa's Cooper DeJean? It would be a popular choice among the fan base.

Green Bay prefers to draft the "best player available" and leans toward premium positions in the early rounds of the draft rather than reaching for needs. However, one prospect could solve various positional needs while also being the best player available at a premium position.

Duke's Graham Barton would be dream first-round choice for Packers

DeJean would be a home-run pick and is the most popular candidate among the fan base at No. 25. However, Duke's Graham Barton checks every box and makes the most sense of all the realistic first-round options for the Packers.

Premium position? Check. Barton played left tackle in college, and while some believe his best NFL position will be at guard or center, his ability to play at tackle is a major plus.

Athleticism? You bet. Barton posted elite agility numbers to earn a Relative Athletic Score of 9.99 out of 10 at guard, 9.85 at tackle, and a perfect 10.00 at center. According to the creator of RAS, Kent Lee Platte, Barton's score ranks third among 1,532 guards since 1987. Wow.

Can he play tackle? Many are quick to write off Barton's chances of playing outside due to his arm length. However, Barton has almost identical measurements to longtime Packers starting tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Graham Barton

Bryan Bulaga





313 pounds

314 pounds

Arm Length

32.88 inches

33.25 inches




Jason B. Hirschhorn of The Leap also believes Barton has the chance to play tackle in the NFL.

"Are we absolutely sure Graham Barton can only play the interior in the NFL?" writes Hirschhorn. "Sure, some teams won't play him at tackle because of his arms, but those movement skills can negate some of those length concerns."

Barton ran a 4.97-yard 40-yard dash and posted a 4.55-second shuttle time and 7.31-second three-cone. They are elite numbers.

"Barton's five-position versatility is one of the top differentiators on his profile," writes Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network. "He has experience at both tackle and center, and his combination of athleticism, power, flexibility, footwork feel, anchor strength, football IQ, and physicality allows him to seamlessly transition between roles."

The best part for the Packers is they don't need Barton to play tackle. He likely would move inside in Green Bay, as Rasheed Walker and Zach Tom are the starters on the outside. Barton could immediately compete for the right guard job and may eventually replace Josh Myers as the starting center. He has All-Pro potential as an interior lineman.

Green Bay prefers targeting premium positions in the first round, which rules out guard-only prospects. Barton likely would play guard or center for the Packers, but the key is whether he can play tackle. There's enough reason to believe he could play on the outside in the NFL, making him a valuable addition to the offensive line.

He could compete for a starting job inside while providing valuable depth at the other positions.

The question is: Will Barton be available at No. 25? The latest NFL Mock Draft Database consensus board has him at No. 27, which puts the Packers in a perfect position.

To ignite their Super Bowl dreams, the Packers must add reinforcements to the offensive line, providing competition and depth. Kicking off the draft by selecting Barton would be a dream scenario.

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