Is Saahdiq Charles the next great left tackle in Washington?
For a generation, the left side has generally been well covered by perennial Pro Bowlers. From Joe Jacoby to Jim Lachey in the franchise’s glory days to Chris Samuels and Trent Williams since 2000, quarterbacks have benefitted from few blindside hits getting past tackles. Indeed, even Donald Penn played well as a stopgap veteran last season while Williams held out.
But Washington has a big decision that could impact its next decade. The line’s left side is missing. Oh, coach Ron Rivera said center to right tackle will be hard pressed to change, especially with Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherff anchoring between Chase Roullier and Morgan Moses. But, the left side could be anything.
There’s competition at left guard between Wes Martin and Wes Schweitzer with the latter having an experience edge while Martin was impressive as a rookie last season playing on the right side. And, left guard is an underrated position because it often pulls for downfield blocks on the right side.
But left tackle is the premier spot and the no-brainer choice should be Charles if it’s a close call over Geron Christian.
Rivera is building and 2020 is more of a stepping stone than a playoff run, especially with COVID-19 seemingly threatening to end sports week to week. This is a chance to play youngsters without serious downside.
Charles comes from a serious college pedigree. As much as Washington loves drafting Alabama players, Charles started for LSU’s national championship last season. While many teammates were drafted earlier, Charles was still taken in the fourth round. Character concerns worried some teams after Charles was suspended six games last season, but pro football tends to mature players quickly.
There’s really no reason for Christian to start over Charles unless the latter struggles. Rivera said learning the system’s language will be Charles’ toughest task. That’s good news since it will come in time. Already, Charles spent four sessions weekly in the offseason sessions via Zoom and the team has five weeks until the regular-season opener.
Christian never inspired any confidence in his first two seasons to be anything other than a reserve. And frankly, that’s stretching it. He played in two games as a rookie in 2018 and started two games last season when the team was desperate. But, Christian’s mobility is limited and edge rushers too often get around him.
Washington just needs to be patient as Charles matures. The team will run more behind the right side so Charles just needs to protect the passer. The only reason to move Charles would be widespread injuries across the line because the rookie can play every position. Christian is simply a tackle so he would stay there while Charles helped elsewhere. But, best not to move your left tackle unless absolutely necessary.
If Rivera is looking more at 2022 when a young team emerges, Charles should be the left side’s anchor. Why waste time on Christian when Charles is the future?
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Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Washington football team in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.