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Saahdiq Charles Opens Up About His Relationship With LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron

Charles_Orgeron

Ed Orgeron received his share of calls from franchises ahead of this year's NFL Draft. After all, LSU had 14 draft selections -- the most of any school since 2004 -- half of which came in the first two rounds.

The Redskins were among the teams that drafted a former Tiger when they took Saahdiq Charles in the fourth round. They did their research on Charles, who had served a suspension in 2019, before they decided to bring him to Washington, and that included a conversation between Orgeron and head coach Ron Rivera.

Charles had nothing to worry about in that regard, because Orgeron gave him a shining recommendation.

"I told Ron, 'I have no problem with Saahdiq, he came in on a daily basis,'" Orgeron said on the Baton Rouge-based radio station "Off the bench." "'He's a great young man, never gave me problems as far as football-wise and work ethic.'"

If Rivera was looking for someone who knew Charles better than almost anyone, calling Orgeron was a good decision. The two have known each other since Charles was 16 years old and have developed a strong relationship in Charles' three seasons at LSU.

"He always tells me, 'I love you like one of my sons,'" Charles told local reporters on May 14. "I love him, too."

Rivera and vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith had a process when they were evaluating players in this year's draft class. They watched film, figured out what each player's specific skillset were and then decided where to put them on their board. Smith said he and Rivera view Charles as "a high-talent player" with "tremendous upside," so he passed that portion of the evaluation.

But that was only half of it; Smith and Rivera also wanted to see if each player would fit into what they were trying to build in Washington. They agreed that Charles had the talent to warrant a draft pick, but they wanted to know more about his suspension for violating team rules.

That kicked off their efforts to get to know Charles as a person.

"We've done a lot of work on him," Smith said. "We dove into this kid's character in a big way."

Orgeron was a pivotal figure in that part of the Redskins' evaluation of Charles. He was the one who recruited the young tackle out of Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi, so he has a unique perspective on Charles' identity off the field.

"Me and Coach O have a great relationship," Charles said. "He knows a lot about me. He knows exactly who I am."

Charles said that he and Orgeron grew close over his three seasons at LSU, but that bond grew stronger in his junior year. During the time Charles served his suspension and after when he regained his role as the starting left tackle, Charles said Orgeron helped him mature.

After four years of watching Charles grow, Orgeron believes he has become a "good young man" and a quality football player. In fact, if Charles came back for his senior season, Orgeron believes he would he probably would have been a first- or second-round pick.

Rivera came away from his conversations with Orgeron impressed with the head coach's assessment of Charles.

"He was very positive about how the young man came in and the way he was contrite about the mistake he had made, about doing things the right way and trying to learn," Rivera said.

Rivera said Charles made a statement that truly caught his attention: when you have something taken away from you, you want it back, you want to do it the right way.

"That really swayed me. I'm one of those that do believe you do give guys opportunities, especially if they show that they want it and this is a young man that wants it."

After Zoom meetings with Smith, Rivera and senior director of player development Malcolm Blacken, the Redskins were convinced that Charles was the right person to be a part of their new culture.

"You can only move forward," Charles said. "The problems that I had in college aren't a problem anymore. … I never necessarily convinced them. I was just being who I am."

Charles is entering his rookie season with something to prove. His experiences have "put something in me that you couldn't be born with," and now he's ready to prove himself as worthy of the fourth-round pick that the Redskins used on him.

"If he can do the right things, which I think he can, they got a steal in the fourth round."

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