Did the Chicago Bears find a hidden gem in OLB Charles Snowden?

Nov 14, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) is sacked by Virginia Cavaliers linebacker Charles Snowden (11) in the second quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Following the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears quickly added to the defense, signing undrafted free agent Charles Snowden. The 6-foot-6, 243-pound pass rusher spent the last four seasons with the Virginia Cavaliers where he racked up 191 total tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks.

By signing Snowden, Chicago will be adding to a pass rusher room that features Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Jeremiah Attaochu, Trevis Gipson, James Vaughters, and Ledarius Mack, the younger brother of three-time All-Pro Khalil Mack. The group may be headlined by the elder Mack and Quinn but Snowden has a nice chance to make the final roster or at least be stashed away on the practice squad in 2021 to prepare him for 2022.

Snowden’s skillset is much like former Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd. Despite being on the taller side, Snowden doesn’t allow his height to hinder his mobility. This further allows him to be effective in either man or zone coverage, with his height allowing him to matchup against tight ends.

Snowden does need to continue adding muscle to his entire frame. This is especially important as when watching tape, there are times where he was unable to convert speed to power, something that many edge rushers thrive on in today’s NFL. More muscle would also allow him to continue imposing his will on offensive lineman.

What is Snowden’s Ceiling?

The Bears have an intriguing group of edge rushers, which means Snowden is on the outside looking in. It’s unfair to write off someone who does showcase potential and also had a highly productive college career but it’s hard to see Snowden beating out the likes of Gipson, Vaughters, and Attaochu.

A likely scenario is that Snowden showcases enough potential that the Bears place him on the practice squad. Chicago has done that with players such as Kerrith Whyte, Sam Mustipher, and Ryan Nall. Both Mustipher and Nall contributed to Chicago’s offense in 2020, with the former starting at center and the latter as a rotational running back and on special teams.

Snowden should experience a similar career path, either becoming a rotational pass rusher or starter. For 2021, expect the former Virginia product to be a practice squad player who eventually becomes a rotational pass rusher before earning a starting role in 2022. Many may not see it now, however, Chicago does appear that they’ve found a hidden gem with a player of Snowden’s caliber.

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