Up, Down or Stay: Will LSU OT Saahdiq Charles fall to Day 3?

2020 NFL draft
Saahdiq Charles

Don’t assume that a long-time starting left tackle for a national championship team is a sure-bet to play on Sundays.

That was the case last year with Mitch Hyatt, who went from four-year starter at Clemson to an undrafted free agent who spent most of the year on Dallas’ practice squad.

That’s not likely to be LSU offensive tackle Saahdiq Charles’ fate, but his draft standing is anyone’s guess at this point due to off-field concerns.

On the field, the 6-foot-4, 321-pounder is a 28-game starter with power, athleticism and positional flexibility. His size isn’t necessarily ideal, but Charles is the same height and 15 pounds heavier than former LSU and current Dallas starting RT La’el Collins was during the 2015 Combine. Collins went undrafted due to a pre-draft controversy.

However, Charles is generally seen as a much better prospect than Hyatt but not quite on the level (at least yet) as Collins.

So by talent alone, Charles would seem destined for Day 2: not quite elite, but a potential early starter.

And that may yet be the case, but most analysts say off-field concerns will hurt Charles’ draft stock. Eric Edholm, lead NFL draft analyst for Yahoo Sports, wrote about those concerns following the Combine. Edholm said several teams had removed Charles from their respective draft boards, at least until they could interview him.

Charles was suspended six games last year for reasons that have never been made public.

And therein lies the issue teams face when deciding whether to take a chance on him, and if so, what round.

From Senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, who named Charles to his annual “better-than team” list of 20 players:

“When watching the LSU offense, this is a player who kept popping off the tape to me. He is a smaller left tackle, but he has gained some weight and is said to be up to 310 pounds. He is athletic and tough and plays to the whistle. He does have character concerns after being suspended for six games last year. But he’s going to be a good NFL player if he can stay clear of trouble. Looks like he could also slide inside to guard.”

 

Jake Rigdon (jake@sydwriting.com) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.


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