While the offense will likely hold most of the spotlight early in the NFL draft, Ryan Pace is always a GM who is thinking defense. It’s in his DNA. If he senses the opportunity to add another quality piece on that side of the ball, he’ll do it. Could Charles Snowden be one such option? That is certainly a possibility based on the latest news updates.
According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, the Bears have been in contact with the Virginia pass rusher along with several other teams. When looking at him? Yeah, it makes plenty of sense. Snowden is 6’6 with 35-inch arms and a former basketball player. So not only big and long but also athletic. That sort of pure physical potential is hard to ignore.
I really like #Virginia LB Charles Snowden. He has excellent length. 15 career sacks as a SAM/WILL. Can stop the run & drop in coverage too.
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 20, 2021
His final season at Virginia stood out too.
Despite only playing eight games, he racked up six sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. Most of that production came in three of the final four games of the year including a dominant four-sack performance against North Carolina. Sadly his season ended prematurely due to an ankle injury. Still, he’d managed to make his mark and should be healthy in time for training camp this summer.
It isn’t hard to see why the Bears are interested. They have to start thinking about new blood at outside linebacker. Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn are into their 30s now. Both are also expensive. One of them figures to be gone after this season. It might be smart to stash somebody on the roster the team can develop into a potential replacement. Does Snowden have the necessary traits? Lance Zierlein of NFL.com thinks so.
“Snowden is a long, smooth athlete dropping into space or transitioning with change of direction. Lower-body anchor is an issue and he needs more play strength, but he’s usually first to land his hands and does an adequate job of separating and setting the edge. Despite having some twitch with his get-off as a rusher, he gets locked out of the cookie jar due to an inability to convert at the top of the rush with hand usage or go-to counters. However, he has excellent lateral quickness for use in twists and stunts and has surprising potential as a zone or man defender when asked.”
Charles Snowden is a specimen but he’s not ready yet
The primary issues that evaluators seem to have with him come from two directions. His general lack of mass and power. Though 6’6, he’s only 240 lbs. This is a similar problem Leonard Floyd had early in his career. The other issue is technical. He doesn’t display much of a pass rush plan, content to rely more on his raw ability than outwit the opposing blocker. That might be fine at the college level, but it’s going to get him in trouble against pro tackles.
This is where the Bears picking him makes even more sense. There are probably not two better mentors in the NFL for such an issue than Mack and Quinn. Both have dominated at various times in their careers and understand all the intricacies of being a successful pass rusher. Having a freak like Charles Snowden learning behind them doesn’t get much more ideal.
It comes down to whether they pick him.
While edge rusher is a position that can always use help, it isn’t exactly high on Chicago’s list of needs. So the hope here would likely be that Snowden somehow falls to Day 3 of the draft. The Bears pick for the first time in the 5th round on that day. If he is somehow still on the board when that happens? They absolutely must consider making that pick.