- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2020

To understand how detailed — and frankly, nerdy — the NFL scouting process can be, consider the conversation around Saahdiq Charles’ arm length. Once Charles’ arms measured at 33 inches, draft analysts and scouts alike wondered if the 20-year-old would be better suited at guard than left tackle, his college position. Some felt Charles’ arms were too short to hold off NFL edge rushers.

It’s a narrative the Redskins’ fourth-rounder doesn’t agree with.

“To me, I’ve played three years and I’ve started three years in the SEC West, which I feel like is the best division of football that you can go play for, for college around the United States,” Charles said. “My arms aren’t short.”

Still, the Redskins have left open the possibility Charles could play either position at the next level, making the LSU product one of the biggest mysteries on the team. It would be better for Washington if Charles could play left tackle as the team traded Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers during the draft.

But Charles will have to prove he can protect the blindside.

At LSU, Charles blocked the best pass rushers from powerhouses like Alabama and Clemson. He did so with 33-inch arms.

“I would say I’m a fast switch player,” Charles said. “My reactions are very well, I can work through well, I can bend, I can strike, I can open my hips when it comes to unloading out on players.”

According to MockDraftable, a website that contains every measurement from the NFL combine, the average offensive tackle’s arms are 34 inches long. Charles fell into the 50th percentile of all tackle prospects, according to the website.

Charles didn’t fall to the fourth round, however, because of his arm length. At LSU, he was suspended six games last fall for failed drug tests. On the surface, Charles’ selection seemed to go against the type of culture that coach Ron Rivera has said he’s trying to build in Washington.

But the Redskins said they were impressed with Charles’ actions afterward, namely his ability to take responsibility for his actions. During the draft process, Washington interviewed Charles at the combine and later had senior director of player development Malcolm Blacken conduct one final background check a week before the draft.

Charles and Blacken chatted for 35 to 40 minutes, Charles said. 

“it was a pretty important talk,” Charles said. “I feel like I would say that he definitely put in a good word for me.”

Charles said he felt like he didn’t have to convince the Redskins to take a chance on him. He could only be himself, Charles said. “The problems that I had in college, aren’t a problem anymore,” he said.

After the draft, Rivera said Charles would be on a “short leash,” but believed in giving second chances to players who want it. And Rivera said he came away with the impression that Charles “wants it.” LSU coach Ed Orgeron also gave a glowing recommendation, which Rivera said helped.

“He’s a high talent player,” Redskins vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith said. “Tremendous talent, tremendous upside.”

Since being drafted, Charles said he’s been in touch with new teammates Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff. He’s also talked with Hall of Famer Jackie Slater and Los Angeles Chargers guard Trai Turner, who played under Rivera in Carolina and went to LSU. Charles has been learning the playbook from offensive line coach John Matsko, as well.

To capture the starting job at left tackle, Charles will have to beat out 2018 third-rounder Geron Christian and veteran Cornelius Lucas.

Rivera said to start training camp, the Redskins will work Charles at left tackle and then work at left guard.

“This is a guy that’s going to compete,” Rivera said of Charles. “He’s going to compete on the left side, left tackle and left guard for us. He’s a guy that has a chance to contribute early on, and quite frankly, because we’re starting over, we’re starting from the beginning, everything is on the table.”


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