Left tackle is a severely underrated position in the NFL. Even though teams invest multiple millions of dollars into franchise quarterbacks, some squads still skip out on make a similar investment for a blindside protector for the man under center.
Drew Brees has enjoyed some great protection in recent years with the New Orleans Saints, and the primary reason for that has been left tackle Jermon Bushrod. With his big money deal coming from the Chicago Bears rather than the Saints in free agency, the team has a serious hole to fill on their offensive line this coming season.
Charles Brown will be entering his fourth season with the Saints after he was a second round pick out of USC in the 2010 NFL Draft. Playing time has been very scant for Brown during his three years in the league, but this year figures to see a significant increase in that area.
As a former tight end, Brown is light on his feet with terrific lateral movement and the ability to mirror oncoming defenders. Where he lacks a bit is in physicality at 6’5” 297lbs. being one of the lighter left tackles in the league. If he can learn to use his technique more effectively to counteract the size advantage that several defenders are likely to have over him, Brown could be a starter in the coming year.
He won’t warrant that designation without a fight, however, and incoming rookie phenom Terron Armstead figures to be heavily involved in the competition. Much like Bushrod who came from small school Towson, Armstead hails from Arkansas-Pine Bluff and only popped up on the national scene with his ridiculous 4.71 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine. His athleticism will make him a serious contender for the left tackle position in training camp, even as a rookie.
The Saints may be hesitant to entrust the blindside of their multi-million dollar investment in Brees to a rookie, however. That is where Brown comes into play and must make a push to earn the starting gig this coming season.
It may not be ideal for the Saints, but Brown figures to be in line for the starting gig at left tackle. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, a big season could mean an even bigger payday for the athletic lineman as well. If Brown can embrace the competition during training camp and emerge as the starter, things might turn out alright after all for the Saints in 2013.