This time of year all of the talk is about the draft. Everybody knows how important it is. Teams that do well picking college players in it tend to find constant success on the field. That being said, the smart GMs in the league place just as much importance on undrafted free agency. Time has shown over and over again that good players slip through the cracks. Ryan Pace knows this. He’s done well on that front for the Chicago Bears. Is Charles Snowden his next big find?

A number of experts believe so. rated the Virginia linebacker as a 4th round talent. Somebody who needed to work on his game but with immense upside. Standing 6’7 with 34-inch arms and the athleticism of a basketball player? Yeah, that makes sense. He collected six sacks in eight games last season before an ankle injury cut his run short. That setback likely played a big part in him not being drafted.

No doubt a disappointment.

However, he didn’t let that discourage him. When it became clear he wasn’t getting drafted, Snowden had a plan in mind for what he wanted to do. He knew plenty of NFL teams were interested in him. It wouldn’t take long to find a new home. The question was where he wanted to end up. By the look of things, he already had a pretty good idea even before the draft began. Here is his answer to an interview on April 27th with Justin Melo of The Draft Network regarding the pre-draft meetings.

At this point in the process, it gets a bit repetitive. Every team is asking the same 10 questions (laughs). At the same time, of course, it’s very cool. I’m on the phone with the Chicago Bears and I’m like, “Wow, these are the Monsters of the Midway on the phone with me” (laughs). I understand and appreciate that aspect of it. You never get tired of that. I’ve also spoken with the Eagles, Jets, Cardinals, Saints, Packers, Rams, Raiders, Falcons, and Bills. I’ve spoken to a bunch of teams.

It’s quite apparent from that answer that the Bears interview stood out to him. The idea of playing for that iconic defense certainly has an appeal for young defensive players. A chance to be on the same field with Khalil Mack? It isn’t hard to wonder what drew him to Chicago. Playing great defense here tends to immortalize you in NFL history. Combine that with the 3-4 defense they run, which fits his skill set? It was an easy connection.

Charles Snowden has a chance to further a strong track record

Pace has done well in undrafted free agency since arriving in 2015. Not only has he found players who have contributed as reserves. He’s also found legitimate starters. Bryce Callahan, Roy Robertson-Harris, and Sam Mustipher are some of his highlights. Snowden is the sort of talent that can absolutely make that jump. It comes down to whether he is healthy and willing to put in the work to get better.

Snowden suffers from a similar issue Leonard Floyd had. Though athletic and long, he’s also underweight for the NFL. Recent estimates had him at around 240 lbs. He’ll need to add more mass in order to deal with pro tackles. Power was not part of his game at Virginia. If he can add it to his arsenal? He’ll become significantly more dangerous. Especially if he learns how to use that athleticism and length to full effect.

The Bears’ outside linebacker spot looks more interesting now.

Mack and Robert Quinn remain the starters. It’s the depth behind them that has intrigue. Jeremiah Attaochu was added in free agency and should be the primary #3 pass rusher. That leaves former 5th round pick Trevis Gipson, veteran James Vaughters, Khalil’s younger brother Ledarius Mack, and Charles Snowden all vying for what will likely be two roster spots at most. So the rookie has a lot of work to do over the next four months.