The Redskins selected Saahdiq Charles with the No. 108 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are five things to know about the LSU offensive tackle.
1. His first sport was soccer.
Don't let Charles' 6-foot-4, 321-pound frame fool you; Charles used to dominate on the soccer pitch.
When Charles first approached the Madison Ridgeland Academy soccer coaches about joining the team, they thought he was too big to play a role. But then they put him in front of the goal and were surprised to see how well he moved.
Charles finished the season as a First-Team All-MAIS keeper.
"He's probably the best athlete I've ever had," MRA head coach Herbert Davis told The Madison County Journal in January. "In terms of his physical size and strength and his ability to move, I've never had another guy like that."
The Patriots advanced to a state championship with Charles as their goalkeeper, but Charles never pursued a college career because his mind was set on playing football, according to The Advocate. The move worked out for Charles, but it's clear the Redskins have drafted an athlete, regardless of his size.
2. His offer from LSU brought him back to Louisiana after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
The effects of Hurricane Katrina were felt for years after one of the biggest natural disasters in American history hit the Gulf of Mexico, forcing more than 400,000 people to move from their homes in 2005.
Charles, who was six years old at the time, and his family were among them. His mother was a respiratory therapist in New Orleans, so the two stayed in the hospital while the hurricane ravaged the city around them.
Charles and his mother traveled to Houston, Georgia and Alabama before finally moving to Madison, Mississippi. Charles went on to become one of the best offensive linemen in the state and was rated as the No. 16 guard and No. 7 overall prospect in Mississippi.
His performance earned him a scholarship offer from LSU, returning him to his home state.
3. He was a member of the best offensive line in the country.
The Joe Moore Award is given annually to the best offensive line in the country. It is the only major college football award that honors a whole unit, and Charles can count himself as a member of the latest group to receive it.
Charles and the rest of LSU's offensive line fueled an offense that averaged 568.9 yards, including 167.3 yards on the ground. They guided running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to a 1,414-yard season and 16 rushing touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry.
Joe Burrow, who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, also had one of the best single seasons for a quarterback in college football history under their guidance. He finished the 2019 season with 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns while taking just 34 sacks for an average of just over two per game.
"LSU made a statement by how well they played together as a group and brought physicality to everything they did," said CBS football college football analyst and College Football Hall of Famer Randy Cross. "LSU showed a tone-setting attitude in both pass protection and in their run blocking that really caught the attention of the 200 plus member voting body that has collectively played and coached this position for well over 800 years."
4. Ron Rivera and Kyle Smith are confident Charles is a "high talent player."
Like all the players in the Redskins draft class, head coach Ron Rivera and vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith have done plenty of research on Charles. Their conclusion: he has "tremendous talent, tremendous upside."
"He's a high talent player," Smith said. "We're excited about the structure that we're going to give this kid, the culture that Coach [Rivera] was talking about that we're going to provide this kid. And we're excited to give him an opportunity with the Redskins."
Smith said the franchise "dove into this kid's character in a big way," partly because of a six-game suspension Charles served in 2019. Smith had a long videoconference with Charles just days before the Redskins drafted him. Rivera also spoke with LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, who was positive about Charles' efforts to make up for the suspension.
Rivera agrees with Smith that Charles has the talent they're looking for in offensive linemen. He can play both left and right tackle positions. Although the plan is to put him on the left side initially, Rivera said they want to try him at right tackle and even at left guard.
"We're always cross training our backups," Rivera said. "So it'll be an opportunity to see what his skill set is and see how versatile he truly is and it'll also help him learn."
5. He's ready to protect Dwayne Haskins Jr.
The Redskins now have an open spot at left tackle, and they have already signed veterans in Cornelius Lucas and Jeremy Vujnovich to compete for the starting position. It would seems Charles wants to put his name into the conversation.
"I'm going to come in there and work hard and just do my thing, man," he said.
Charles already has a knack for protecting quarterbacks. Per Pro Football Focus, he surrendered zero quarterback pressures in 61 passing situations against Clemson in the National Championship. He was the only offensive lineman with an "elite pass block" grade in the game.
When asked how he plans to do the same for Haskins, Charles said, "The same thing I did in college – find where his launch point is in the pocket and communicate with him. Of course, I take a lot of pride in that and it's one thing we took a lot of pride in as an offensive line at LSU is keeping your quarterback clean."
And based on Haskins' response after Charles was drafted, he's excited about the prospect of having the former Tiger protect him.