NFL Scouting Combine

Why Duke's Barton could be perfect fit for 49ers' O-line needs

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INDIANAPOLIS — The 49ers took advantage of the talented group of offensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine, meeting with several prospects as part of their scouting process ahead of the 2024 draft.

The 49ers are not in need of a center or left tackle immediately, but they are looking for reinforcements for their offensive line -- and Duke’s Graham Barton is a versatile prospect that could be the perfect fit for coach Kyle Shanahan’s outside zone scheme.

School: Duke
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 314
Age: 21 years
Positions played: Left tackle, center 

Barton spoke at the combine and confirmed a formal meeting with the 49ers, which is part of the pre-draft process for every team. The lineman played center as a true freshman and left tackle for his next three seasons at Duke.

“I think I could fit into a lot of offensive lines in the NFL,” Barton said. “I think I’m a versatile offensive lineman. I think I’m athletic, I play with my feet well, I’ve got fast feet and that transitions well for me to many offensive lines, being able to play out of different stances and different positions.”

Barton’s versatility and football IQ are reasons NFL draft insider Daniel Jeremiah has the Duke product heading to the 49ers in the second version of his mock draft at No. 31. Barton also has significant experience with 39 total starts — 34 at left tackle, five at center.

The 49ers have left tackle Trent Williams and center Jake Brendel signed through the 2026 NFL season, but Barton is projected to be able to play five positions across the line and likely would thrive in Shanahan's outside zone scheme. 

“Run blocking is fun,” Barton said. “You get to go at defenders instead of retreat. Run blocking is about violence; it’s about intensity. Run blocking is also an art form. You’ve got to have sound technique. You’ve got to have your hat in the right place.

“To be able to do that with violence and create some space for your backs to get through, it’s fun. It’s a lot of the reason I play the game, to be able to go at guys and run my feet and try to finish defenders. It’s all over my tape -- I play the game with passion. It’s how I feel about football. I enjoy it a lot.”

Run blocking is the strongest part of Barton’s game. The lineman also is a solid pass protector, but the 21-year old understands his need to be more consistent honing in on his techniques and building habits in order to keep his quarterback upright.

Barton is set to graduate from Duke in May, after which he will focus solely on the beginning of his NFL career. The Blue Devil lineman earned Second-Team All-American (2023) and first-team All-ACC (2022, 2023) honors during his college career.

“Someone the past three years at tackle that I’ve watched is David Bakhtiari in his time with the [Green Bay] Packers,” Barton said. “Similar measurables and I’ve taken a lot of influence from the way he wins his blocks. He’s athletic and gets off the ball very quickly and matches guys foot to foot.”

Even if Barton is not a Day 1 starter, he would be a valuable addition to the 49ers' offensive line room. 

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