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Why Redskins draft picks Antonio Gandy-Golden and Saahdiq Charles face a difficult NFL transition

Why Redskins draft picks Antonio Gandy-Golden and Saahdiq Charles face a difficult NFL transition

Besides the obvious selection of pass rusher Chase Young, two 2020 Redskins draft picks that excited many fans were a pair of fourth-rounders.

The first was the choice of LSU tackle Saahdiq Charles, who the Redskins nabbed with the second pick in the fourth round. 36 picks later, Washington added lengthy pass-catcher Antonio Gandy-Golden from Liberty.

The two selections were viewed as positive ones by many, mainly because of the potential that both Charles and Gandy-Golden have. But it's no secret that each one of them has their own fair share of question marks.

With the coronavirus pandemic eliminating all in-person offseason activities including rookie minicamp and OTAs, NBC Sports' Josh Norris wonders how much of an impact Gandy-Golden and Charles will truly be able to have as rookies in 2020.

"Antonio Gandy-Golden to me is kind of like a discount Tee Higgins, the 33rd overall pick," Norris told the Redskins Talk podcast. "Height, acrobatic, all that stuff. Again, I cannot imagine what the transition is going to be, Liberty to the NFL without a true offseason program without rookie minicamp, I don't know how much you can ask that type of player in his rookie season."


Gandy-Golden was not selected until the fourth round partially due to the competition he faced at Liberty, a school that just made the jump to the FBS level two season ago. While the wideout may not have gone to a Power Five school, all he did during his time at Liberty was produce. Over his final two seasons in college, he finished with a combined 150 catches for 2,433 yards and 20 touchdowns.

One area the wideout excelled the most in college was using his lengthy, 6-foot-4 frame to haul in contested catches down the field on vertical routes. In Washington, Norris wonders if he'll be given the chance to do so, considering the team already has a few pass-catchers that shine in that aspect.

"When I went back and watched him, it was a lot of vertical routes that were tested and just create acrobatic catches," Norris said. "Again, who knows how different the offense is going to be in Washington. I'm not saying it's going to be a one-for-one, but where Scott Turner asked [{anthers wideout] Curtis Samuel to play last year was a lot of vertical routes. Obviously, Terry McLaurin was great at that his rookie year as well"

As Norris explains, Turner, Washington's new offensive coordinator, sent one of his smaller, faster receivers on vertical routes a lot last season. Should he want to do that with the Redskins, he has two obvious choices in McLaurin and second-year wideout Steven Sims. Speed has never been Gandy-Golden's strength, and his 4.6 40-yard dash time at the Scouting Combine proved that.

The analyst is a little higher on Charles' outlook, who has the chance to compete for the team's starting left tackle spot in 2020 with Trent Williams now in San Francisco. While Norris thinks the Redskins may have gotten a "steal" in Charles, potentially having to rely on a rookie fourth-round pick at the most important position along the offensive line is not ideal for Washington.

"Is that what you want to rely on? That's tough," he said. "That's the spot they found themselves in."

Norris explained that the preseason will be telling for what the Redskins can expect from Charles as a rookie.

"So often with these players, you have a much better view of who they are once preseason games roll around, like two games of the preseason than 12 games at the college level," Norris said. "I would much rather have those two exposures against true NFL players than LSU just whooping up on everyone down there and going against those pass rushers."

When Ron Rivera took over as Redskins head coach in January, he filled out his staff with a bunch of his former colleagues from Carolina. One of those was offensive line coach John Matsko, who served that role in Carolina for all nine seasons that Rivera was the head coach. 

During his tenure with the Panthers, Matsko has earned the reputation as one of the best offensive line coaches across the league, partially due to his ability to get the most out of his players. Norris believes that Matsko could have the same success with Charles as he did with some of his former offensive linemen in the past.

"They turned some undrafted players into starters [in Carolina]," Norris said. "Greg Van Roten was one, Andrew Norwell was one, and both of those guys got pretty hefty contracts. Trai Turner was only a third-round selection. They did some development. They haven't had top left tackle talent down there. When they went to the Super Bowl, Michael Oher was their left tackle. He was up and down at all times. They've done some very good development."

Norris concluded by saying that Charles doesn't need to turn into a top tackle in the NFL in order to have success with the Redskins. Rather, what's most important for the rookie is learning how to work well alongside the other four members of the unit.

"You don't need to have top-end talent at every spot along the offensive line," Norris said. "You need to kind of have five players that work well together, and then that can hopefully become a successful offensive line."

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Ron Rivera hasn't coached a single game in Washington but he's already made a huge impact

Ron Rivera hasn't coached a single game in Washington but he's already made a huge impact

Ron Rivera hasn’t coached a single game in Washington yet. Hell, because of coronavirus, he hasn’t even coached a single practice yet. 

No matter.

Rivera is well on his way to being the most important Redskins coach since Joe Gibbs walked these halls. 

Love it or hate it, the Redskins seem to be on the precipice of changing their name, and despite being in charge of the organization for a little more than six months, Rivera is involved in that decision. 

When the team formally announced a thorough review of the Redskins' name in early July, Rivera was quoted in the statement, right after team owner Dan Snyder. 


“This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military," Rivera said in that statement. 

Take a step back.

The head coach, that hasn't coached a single game yet, is going to work with the team owner about possibly changing an 80-year old name?

Yeah, that's how important Ron Rivera is in Ashburn. 

Publicly or privately, Rivera seems a big factor in the evolution of the Redskins organization. After the murder of George Floyd, it was Rivera that came out with a message supporting Black Lives Matter. 

And after FedEx publicly asked the Redskins to change their name — setting off an avalanche of requests from major corporate partners — it was Rivera that joined Snyder in the announcement of a possible name change. 


It's fair to ask if Rivera is the right person for the job. After all, as pointed out earlier, he hasn't even coached a game wearing Burgundy and Gold yet. Rivera might not be steeped in Redskins history, but he has innate, natural leadership skills. Bruce Allen was steeped in Redskins history and also had leadership skills, but they were more similar to Darth Vader's. 

Rivera inspires people, ask many of his former players. And right now, that leadership is part of inspiring change at Redskins Park. 

Snyder hired Rivera to overhaul a losing, toxic culture. He's been applauded for his foresight and commitment to diversity across the NFL. Whether or not Rivera — or anyone else — expected those two changes to collide so early in his Redskins tenure no longer matters. 

The collision happened the afternoon of George Floyd's murder, and so far, Rivera has proven the man for the job. 

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One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

As it stands now, the Washington Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. According to Forbes, the team is worth a whopping $3.4 billion -- the 14th most-valuable franchise in all of sports, and the fifth most valuable team in the NFL.

With the team currently conducting an internal review of the moniker, it's worth wondering if a new name would hurt the value of the team. According to Randy Vataha -- the president of Game Plan LLC., which helps the service of helping people buy and sell sports franchises -- it shouldn't.

"I don't think it will really hurt the team's value ultimately," Vataha said to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

Vataha explained that each franchise's actual name has little to do with its value.

"We're big believers and have a lot of data that indicates that yes, branding is important, yes, names are important in a lot of ways, but what's really important is the size and the demographics of the market," Vataha said.

The analyst gave the example of New York sports franchises, such as the Knicks and Rangers, and how they are consistently two of the most valuable teams in all of sports. Why? Because they play in New York City.

"The New York teams are all the top teams in every league," Vataha said. "The NFL is a little different because of how they share revenue, but the New York teams are always at the top, not because of the names of the teams. It's because of the marketplace.

"You'll have a lot of people, you'll have a lot of social media, you'll have a lot of political commentary back and forth," Vataha continued. "But at the end of the day, the core value is decided by the size of the market and the demographics of the market."


This past week, a report surfaced from the Washington Post that the Redskins three minority owners were looking to sell their stake in the team, citing that they were "not happy being a partner" with Redskins majority owner Dan Snyder. The three minority owners -- Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman -- make up approximately 40 percent of the team's ownership group.

Vataha said he understands both sides of the argument surrounding the team. Additionally, he said that the safest financial decision for the team would be to keep the name, despite all the public backlash they've received over the past couple of weeks.


However, immediately after, Vataha emphasized once more that he doesn't envision the name change truly making a big difference value-wise.

"I understand the arguments on both sides pretty well," Vataha said. "But I think from the financial standpoint, the safest thing is never change it. But, on the other hand, I don't think it'll be a big hit to value any way at all."

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