INDIANAPOLIS — LSU left tackle Saahdiq Charles is one of the more talented and athletic offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL draft. Based on his play, NFL talent evaluators have told us there is some second- or third-round talent to his game.
But Charles also comes with a major “buyer beware” tag that must be factored in.
Charles was the player who most needed to nail the interview process among offensive linemen here after being suspended six games last season. On Wednesday, Charles was asked about how his interviews went with NFL teams.
“We talk about my life story, and then [my] maturity and accountability,” Charles told Yahoo Sports. “Once we get past that part, they want to draw up some plays.”
Charles expressed regret for his mistakes that led to the suspension during LSU’s championship season. He said he has tried to convince teams that his issues are in the past.
“It was just a mistake,” Charles said. “It’s not a part of my life anymore, whatever I went through that led to the suspensions.
“It was selfish and a stupid mistake, honestly. I moved forward from it.”
Charles refused to say what exactly got him suspended. LSU coach Ed Orgeron cited “coach’s decisions”.
An LSU source told Yahoo Sports that Charles has some work to do to convince NFL teams he’s worth the risk. The 20-year-old Charles was “tremendously immature” and “constantly stayed in trouble” during the Tigers’ dream season.
“He’s a follower, not a leader,” the source continued. “He gravitated toward trouble when he didn’t have money, so what’s going to happen when he does have [an NFL paycheck]?
“He makes it tough to trust him. He’s not reliable. In three years, he had a major discipline issue each year.”
As a result, league sources have indicated that multiple teams have removed Charles from their draft board — for now — until they get more answers from him on his character concerns.
Charles endured a rough upbringing that saw him and his mother displaced after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with Charles’ father not in the picture. His mother worked at a New Orleans hospital, so she and Charles stuck around during Katrina’s initial wave before “bouncing around from Georgia to Alabama to Mississippi” when Charles was in fourth grade.
“It was pretty crazy,” Charles said. “I remember them feeding us like two or three sandwiches and some chips. My mom would give me the food, not really take it herself. After that, they loaded us up on some buses or 18-wheelers or something like that.”
Charles was a talented soccer goalie growing up, as his mom pushed him on being active in sports. He eventually settled in with football and earned a scholarship to LSU.
Charles and his LSU teammates on the offensive line won the Joe Moore Award, given to the best OL unit every season. When Charles played, he displayed the ability to bend and quickly redirect on the most prolific offense in college football. The Tigers played an up-tempo style and frequently asked the five blockers up front to handle pressure without extra help.
Giving up his final season of eligibility was not the plan coming into the season, Charles said, but the team’s success helped make the decision easier to declare for the 2020 draft as a junior.
“We had a great year, accomplished a lot of goals,” he said. “Me and the guys won the Joe Moore Award, [were] SEC champs and eventually national champs. We knocked out all those goals. So I don’t know … I played well and I just felt it was a great decision. It was for me and my family.”
Charles showed up to the combine at 321 pounds — more than 25 pounds heavier than his playing weight this past season. He has played left and right tackle, along with both guard spots, in his career and could be asked by an NFL team to try any of those positions.
The biggest concern is the character issue. Charles says that he can put it in the past and embark on his NFL path.
“I feel like I made a mistake, and everyone makes mistakes, but judge me — the whole me — not just the mistake,” he said. “I am a good guy. A great guy. Everything they learned from me is that I was a great guy who just made some mistakes in college.”
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