Over the course of the next several months, the Seahawks and 31 other teams will be evaluating the latest crop of incoming talent in preparation for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Up next in our prospect profiles series, the Seahawks could lose multiple options at offensive tackle. Recently crowned national champion Saahdiq Charles from LSU offers a skill set Seattle covets at the position.
A slick-footed left tackle from LSU who has excellent balance, Charles and the Tigers faced several ferocious defenses and some of the best pass rushers in the country in the SEC. But he neutralized just about every one of them, providing ample time for Joe Burrow to torch opponents through the air.
Charles seemed to play at his best against top competition, especially in pass protection. In the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Charles and LSU faced off against Clemson, who routinely churns out NFL-caliber pass rushers. According to Pro Football Focus, Charles had 61 pass-blocking snaps in that title game and allowed zero quarterback pressures in the Tigers' championship victory.
Charles' athleticism was on display during the NFL Combine when he posted a 5.05 40-yard dash time, one of the fastest by a lineman in this class. His flexibility and bend allow for him to stick with speedy pass rushers and not allow them to out-run him. At times, his switches on stunts seem effortless and his 33-inch arm length helps.
With only four years of playing offensive line under his belt, Charles has a lot of room for growth both physically and mentally as he continues to learn the game. Any team that selects him will be drafting a player with tons of upside and starter potential.
Though he's sound in pass protection, Charles has been docked by scouts for his lack of functional strength at the point of attack and he has a tendency to get caught leaning into his blocks as a result. At 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, he could stand to gain some weight and fill out that frame even more, especially if he lands with a team that prioritizes running the football.
As a result of his sub-300 pound mass, Charles' anchor ability is not as strong as it could be against bull rushes and there are concerns about his ability to hold up against more powerful edge rushers at the next level. Other tackles in this loaded draft class possess stronger lower bodies and have shown better against power moves on film, opening the door for him to potentially move to guard.
Though he started nine games, the Jackson, Mississippi native was suspended six games during the 2019 season for violating undisclosed team rules. Charles called it a “selfish and stupid mistake” that is now behind him, but the red flags remain, which could push him further down from his early Day 2 projection.
Where He Fits in Seattle
The Seahawks will likely lose their starting right tackle Germain Ifedi and his obvious replacement, George Fant, to free agency this month. Even if Seattle brings one of them back, they need help at the tackle positions.
Former Pro Bowler Duane Brown is not getting any younger and will turn 35 years old during training camp. Whether they want to or not, the Seahawks will eventually need to think about his replacement, as he has two seasons left on his current deal and it's not out of the question he could retire then.
Charles projects as a late-day two, early-day three prospect with some question marks about where he will play from a position standpoint. He may not be ready to be an instant starter at tackle due to his lack of mass, but he may surprise the coaches with his athleticism and natural ability as a swing tackle or guard.
Ultimately, Seattle needs depth and replacements at tackle for 2020 and beyond. Even if he's not in the lineup immediately, Charles seems to fit the bill as a future starter in the NFL after some fine-tuning under the tutelage of line coach Mike Solari.