Fire Extinguisher In Round 1

April 26th, 2024


Graham Barton thanked a lot of people for helping him become a first-round draft pick in the National Football League.

He left out one very important contributor — Derrick Brown.

Panthers DT Derrick Brown sacks Baker Mayfield.

Yes, it was Carolina’s disruptive defensive tackle who ultimately convinced the Bucs that they needed a serious upgrade at center.

In two games against Tampa Bay last season, Brown was a force of nature. He filled gaps, he pressured Baker Mayfield and he had his way with an overmatched Robert Hainsey.

Even though the Bucs won both games, they struggled to move the ball consistently. In a 21-18 Panthers loss at Tampa, Brown was credited with four tackles and two QB hits. In the drab regular-season finale at Charlotte, Brown had seven tackles, two hits and a sack in a 9-0 loss that clinched another NFC South title for the visitors.

If Hainsey was on shaky ground before the Jan. 7 matchup, Brown’s impact along the line of scrimmage offered fresh, compelling evidence that Mayfield needed a new anchor up front.

It was a bit surprising Barton was still available at No. 26. His versatility and stellar play at Duke had him highly ranked as a prospect, so the Bucs quickly turned his card in with glee.

“He started a ton of games,” says NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “He has played center and I think that’s where his ultimate best position is going to be, but he can play anywhere.”

Baker Mayfield

Drafting a center isn’t going to trigger a frenzy at the box office, but Mayfield isn’t complaining.

Neither is Rachaad White, who can expect wider holes to run through between the tackles this fall.

It should be more difficult for Derrick Brown and Grady Jarrett to have their way with an offensive line that will likely feature two new interior starters. Even before the first round concluded Thursday evening, Jason Licht suggested Barton was the player the Bucs had targeted all along.

We’ll never know.

Perhaps the Bucs would have selected an edge rusher instead — if the first round had fallen a different way. Who cares? Graham Barton is a Buc and the league’s most anemic ground game just received a jolt of adrenaline.

There were a couple of other intriguing anchors to consider. Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson and West Virginia’s Zach Frazier are more experienced at center than Barton, but the Bucs felt the Tennessee native was a better fit for new offensive coordinator Liam Coen.

“In terms of stylistically, Graham Barton is the best athlete of the three,” Jeremiah says. “I think he has legit 5-position flexibility. I think he’s best at center, but he can survive at tackle if you need him to. He’s fully capable of playing guard as well. He’s the best in space, change of direction and just overall athleticism. He’s really, really talented there.”

When need and value intersect in the opening round, it’s a beautiful thing.

Licht has a solid draft record when it comes to selecting offensive linemen and Barton is going to do his best to remind Tampa Bay fans what the addition of Ryan Jensen meant for this organization.

Powers-Johnson and Frazier may go on to accomplished NFL careers, but none of that matters if Barton shakes up an offense that has wobbled far too often since Jensen’s career was derailed by a knee injury in the summer of 2022.

Derrick Brown started this fire.

Let’s see if Graham Barton and friends can douse the flames by opening a can of whup-ass.


25 Responses to “Fire Extinguisher In Round 1”

  1. MadMax Says:

    Beautifully written Sage Ira!

  2. Dubcity Says:

    They can still get JPJ or Frazier.. Barton can play Guard… then they draft a RB… and that would address the biggest hole on the team… the running game as it affects the entire offense..

    Jensen and Ali being out before the season helped end Leftwich’s career..

    The difference between the 49ers and the Bucs is both OL and DL… this goes a long way to closing the gap.

  3. Hearty Dikerson Says:

    Drafting Travis Fredrick was the catalyst that turned the Cowboys oline into the best in the league. All Centers need to be smart, but when you have one that has elite strength and athleticism, it’s a massive advantage. We just drafted out Travis Fredrick.

  4. Mr. Editor Says:

    Amen, Ira! Preach on!

  5. ManzielMadness Says:

    Could’ve turned out different if one of top 3 DE’s fell but very happy with Barton. I hope Licht keeps building through the trenches, still some decent DT’s, OG’s, and DE’s available.

  6. Cobraboy Says:

    Barton will make a much bigger difference for the O than any remaining edge available at #26 for the D.

    I read that many “draft gurus” had Barton as the #18 or #20 best player. If so, he was a great steal at #26.

    Bucs got lucky, like they got lucky when Wirfs fell a few slots.

    *Thank you, Lord, for no more “draft gurus” spouting their “I’m never right, but never in doubt” baloney for another 9 months…

  7. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    What happens if Johnson powers is still on the board w our next pick?

  8. Travis K Says:

    Now we just have to keep Logan Hall from ending our new center’s career in training camp

  9. Cobraboy Says:

    How much fear is generated when the Bucs play a team that spent a lot of draft capital on the trenches? Like the Iggles OL, among others?

    I want that on my Bucs team: trenches teams fear, not the fancy-pants guys.

    You win the trenches, and the fancy-pants don’t amount to spit.

  10. Admiral Redbeard Says:

    Dubcity, I love seeing that SOMEBODY else gets it. I’m hoping Licht also gets T’Vondre Sweat to back up and play along side Vita.

  11. Cobraboy Says:

    I would LOVE for the Oregon C or the wrestler kid from WV to still be available at Buc Time in round 2!


    Talk about an OL transformation!

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Certainly, Barton wasn’t the top player on Licht’s board……..but he was at the time of the pick.
    I think if Baron was gone, we would have traded back for one of the other centers.
    Like Ira said…”We’ll never know”

  13. Cobraboy Says:

    Our RBs may be more productive with an improved OL. However, I’m not sure it’s necessary to draft on Day 2 (the Bucs have 3 picks).

  14. Mr. Editor Says:

    Hey Kirk Cousins! You like that?!

  15. MadMax Says:

    ^LOL, dirty bird poop

  16. gotbbucs Says:

    Powers-Johnson’s technique looks like that of a toddler compared to Barton. It’s not even close.
    I said weeks ago that Powers-Johnson was a 2nd or 3rd round talent, but everyone was convinced that teams would be falling over themselves to trade up and draft him. He’s a project. I honestly wouldn’t even have him on my draft board. He doesn’t move well enough to be a good NFL center.

  17. BillyBucco Says:

    I said the same thing. Way too much hype on JPJ.
    Barton is the superior player.
    Someone will reach for JPJ I assume.
    Hoping we take Issac with 57.
    Maybe Edgerrin Cooper or Payton Wilson or Junior Colson.
    WR and RB in the 3rd or a CB in either spot.

  18. matthew a veal Says:

    sounds like a future player rep for the bucs or even higher as well

  19. geno711 Says:

    It will be interesting to see how well Barton does.

    You’ve got to think that every Tampa Bay fan will want the same production in the first season that Tristen Wirfs got.

    I hope it is close to him, but really, what Wirfs did in his first season is HOF worthy and if continues on this trend, he will be in the HOF.

    To expect Barton to be another HOF lineman, is just absurd. Hoping for a 2 to 4 time all pro and a guy who is consistently ranked in the top 10 of centers, would be a good hit. Getting to a 2nd earned contract would be wonderful as well.

  20. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Great article Ira. The O is improved – now let’s take it up a level with a LG and RB – bruisers. You got with Licht!

  21. Hearty Dikerson Says:

    For those learning football, a Center often helps double-team with the guard, (which guard just depends on which way the play is going).

    We now have a C that can blow up DTs all by himself, much less with the help of a double team. This advantage cannot be overlooked.

  22. teacherman1983 Says:

    He looks like a general.

    We just drafted a true leader to play with Wirfs.

    We have Goedeke the Psycho.

    Mauch the Weirdo.

    Wirfs the nice guy.

    And now we have General Barton.

  23. nicholas houllis Says:

    is it training camp yet??

  24. Darin Says:

    So Vea had no say it was all D Brown? The Bucs knew long before brown. Vea abused him in training camp worse than brown ever could. It was Jensen retiring that sealed it

  25. Idroolpewter&red Says:

    Very well put Ira! Can’t wait for September! Let’s f-ing go Bucs!!!