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Battle for Left Guard: Charles vs Paul | Washington Commanders

By Adam Aniba

Last offseason Ron Rivera brought in one of his former Panthers, signing veteran guard Andrew Norwell. Although the offensive line was serviceable at times, Norwell was clearly a shell of himself. In saying that, Norwell wasn't the only issue along the offensive line with Washington utilizing multiple centers due to injury during the '22 season.

As it stands, every starting position along the offensive line with the exception of left guard is all but set. At left tackle Charles Leno Jr. returns as the starter, recently signed Nick Gates is the presumptive starting center, Sam Cosmi will slide inside to right guard after being drafted to start at right tackle and former Chiefs T/G Andrew Wiley will start at right tackle.

That leaves the starting left guard spot up for grabs, but T/G Saahdiq Charles is believed to have the inside track to start.

Coaches also reportedly like what they've seen from second year T/G Chris Paul, who received his first career start vs the Cowboys in the '22 season finale due to injuries along the line.

Charles, who was drafted #108 overall (4th round) in the 2020 draft will get another shot to start along the offensive line.

Charles has been a mainstay on the injured reserve list with lower body injuries, a concussion and shoulder issues. He did display promise in the handful of games he was active in, but durability has been his biggest nemesis. Charles has been active in only 24 games with 3 starts in three seasons.

Prior to being drafted, NFL analyst Lance Zierlein had the following to say about Charles.

"Charles has a corral mentality in his pass sets even though he shows decent sustain and mirror once he gets locked in. His ability to recover is a big saving grace in his favor right now. He lacks desired tackle size and is still a work in progress, but he has enough traits to warrant consideration as a swing tackle with guard potential."

Although Charles might be the early favorite to start at left guard, second year T/G Chris Paul (College Scouting Report) has the attributes and physicality to excel as a starter.

Paul was drafted #230 overall (7th round) in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Tulsa University lineman was a four year starter, playing every position along the offensive line with the exception of center.

At 6'4" 323 lbs. Paul is an impressive specimen, especially when blocking on the second level and frequently seeking out contact. As mentioned in Paul's scouting report, he's still a work in progress as an overall pass blocker though.

Although the chances are higher than 50% that Charles will be the starting left guard heading into week 1, one setback/injury could set the stage for Paul to take hold of the starting left guard spot.



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