Breaking down the Washington Football Team’s position battles: Left Tackle
Top Challenger: Saahdiq Charles
It’s certainly possible that Saahdiq Charles could enter the season as Washington’s No. 1 option at the left tackle position. The fourth-round rookie has talent and Ron Rivera has shown a willingness to play rookies early and often as a head coach.
At the same time, there are a few fundamental truths that have to be understood about Charles’ candidacy for the starting job.
Of most note is the fact that Charles’ first offseason has been significantly shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rookies got a late start getting acclimated to the NFL and that could have an impact on Charles out of the gate. It may take him longer to learn the nuances of Washington’s offense, so his eventual inclusion in the starting lineup may be pushed back by a few weeks.
Also, it’s worth noting that Charles’ playing weight in college was just 295 pounds. He got by in the SEC, but at the NFL level, he needs to prove that he can play heavier. He bulked up a bit this offseason but because of the cancelation of rookie camp and OTAs, there haven’t been many opportunities for him to show the coaches that he can play at that weight.
All that said, Charles has a ton of upside. He was rock-solid at LSU and is an excellent technician. More often than not, he properly squared up the man he was blocking for the Tigers and did well to protect Joe Burrow. Additionally, he has great athletic ability and quick feet, so he should be able to find success against the quicker edge rushers that the NFL has to offer.
In an ideal world, Charles will be the starter for Washington by the end of the season. For the time being, though, he fits in as a swing tackle until the team deems him ready to start. That may not be in Week 1, but it may not take too many games for him to overtake Lucas as the starter.