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

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.

The Chicago Bears finally got it right in the 2021 NFL Draft

chicago bears, justin fields

With the 2021 NFL Draft officially having concluded, the Chicago Bears came away with quite the haul. First-round picks quarterback Justin Fields highlight’s the Bears class, but second-round pick offensive tackle Teven Jenkins projects to be a day one starter.

Chicago used its final five draft picks to add players who are expected to be depth options in 2021 but could eventually become starters down the road. What’s significant about the Bears draft haul is that five of Chicago’s seven draft picks were offensive players.

Investing heavily on offense isn’t something that the Bears franchise has been known to do. In what is a defense-first town, the Bears have lacked on offense. Between 2019 and 2020, Chicago’s offense was in the bottom half of the NFL in nearly every category.

Head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace both saw issues that the Bears had in 2020 and used the 2021 NFL Draft to address the issues. Sixth-round picks Khalil Herbert, and Daz Newsome will likely contribute on special teams in year one. Both bring an element of speed to the Bears offense that was missing in 2020.

Fifth-round pick Larry Borom can play either right tackle or guard. Borom brings physicality and toughness, playing with a mean streak. Borom may not start from day one, but he did showcase enough potential at Missouri to warrant eventually starting as soon as 2022.

The Bears offense-heavy draft has a single message: Under Nagy, gone are the days of Chicago being a defense-first franchise. The goal now is to reverse the trend, becoming an offense-first team.

The Bears have tried to become an offense-first team in the past. The Marc Trestman days showcased what was a failed experiment. Expect this time around to be different, simply because the Bears finally got quarterback right.

If Fields lives up to expectations, Chicago will have finally gotten it right. Not just the quarterback position but for the first time in the Bears 102-year franchise history.

Newly-obtained future draft picks give the New York Giants insurance at quarterback

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are a rebuilt team with an incredibly bright future. That is more evident now than ever after the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Giants operated like a brand new team during this year’s draft. Dave Gettleman did what he has never done before and traded down. Gettleman and the Giants traded down not once, but twice in this year’s draft. The Giants made the big move to trade down in the first round with the Chicago Bears, fielding a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick, and a 2021 fifth-round pick.

The Giants gained incredible value when acquiring those future draft picks. Those picks make the Giants’ future even brighter as they continue to build a young, talented, and competitive roster. But those picks also give the Giants insurance for the future regarding the most important position in sports: the quarterback.

How the future capital gives the Giants quarterback insurance

The Giants’ future draft picks obtained via trade this past weekend are hugely important. Not only does the capital give the Giants extra picks to add more young talent to their roster, but it also gives them flexibility going forward with their quarterback situation.

Daniel Jones, right now, is the guy. But this is widely considered to be his “prove-it” year. If Jones cannot succeed and compete now with the number of weapons New York surrounded him with this offseason, then it is hard to see him turning it around at any point.

First-round picks are the most valuable commodity in the NFL other than the quarterback position. But first-round picks are also used to obtain greater quarterback talent. The 49ers had to give up three first-round picks and more to obtain the third overall pick in this year’s draft and draft a quarterback.

If Daniel Jones does take the Giants to the playoffs in a breakout season, then New York can sit happily knowing they have their guy and have extra draft picks to continue building around him next year and beyond.

If Daniel Jones proves that he is not the guy this year, the Giants now have some extra capital to move up and get a new signal-caller in next year’s draft class (which is projected to be loaded with quarterback talent). New York gave themselves insurance and flexibility at quarterback by obtaining extra picks in next year’s draft.

New York Giants selected Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari with 50th overall pick in 2021 NFL Draft

In the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants have selected Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari at pick 50 overall. This selection was made after the Giants traded down from the 42nd overall pick with the Miami Dolphins. The Giants moved down eight spots and added Miami’s 2022 second-round pick.

After moving down in the second round, New York filled a major need at edge rusher with Azeez Ojulari. The Giants snagged a player that was frequently projected as a late first-round pick. However, some concerns over a previous knee injury pushed him down draft boards.

The Giants gained tremendous value in round two, drafting a player considered to be a first-round talent while also adding an additional future third-round pick. Azeez Ojulari is a speedy edge rusher with the juice and bend off the edge to get after quarterbacks.

In 2020, Azeez Ojulari was a menace off the edge for Georgia. Ojulari had 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss along with 4 forced fumbles. New York needed a new pass-rusher off the edge and they met their need with exceptional value in Azeez Ojulari.

New York Giants trade back in 2021 NFL Draft First Round

New York Giants

The New York Giants have traded down in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants have traded down to the 20th overall pick in the first round with the Chicago Bears. The Giants received pick 20, pick 164 (fifth-round), a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2022 fourth-round pick.

Dave Gettleman, general manager of the New York Giants, was notorious for never trading down in the draft. Tonight he made his first trade down to 20 overall. The Chicago Bears traded up to 11 overall to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

The Giants missed out on DeVonta Smith and pivoted towards moving down in the draft to gain extra draft capital. Now, the New York Giants have additional capital in this year and next year’s drafts. Barring any more unforeseen trades, Giants will be on the clock at 20 overall.

New York Jets draft Zach Wilson with 2nd overall pick

new york jets, zach wilson

The New York Jets have drafted BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the 2021 Draft. Wilson has been the expected pick for some time now, and it has finally happened. Now, he steps into a situation in New York where he will be the starter from the get-go.

The BYU product broke onto the scene this past year with a fantastic junior season. He totaled 3,692 passing yards with a 73.5 completion percentage, 43 total touchdowns and just 3 interceptions.

Wilson seemed to put the rest of his projected draft-position doubts to rest during his pro day. His ability to make all the throws, both on and off-balance, and extend plays has created a lot of buzz and excitement about the next stage.

The new Jets quarterback has drawn comparisons to the likes of Patrick Mahomes and, according to NFL Analyst Lance Zierein, Aaron Rodgers.

“[Wilson’s] an ascending quarterback prospect who possesses the swagger and arm talent to create explosive plays inside and outside the pocket,” Zierlein said in his overview of the quarterback. “The gunslinger’s mentality and improved release points are clearly patterned off of one of his favorite players, Aaron Rodgers.”

If Zach Wilson can resemble the Packers’ star to any degree, the Jets, and their fans, will be head over heels for the next decade, at least. However, the time for talking is over. The clock for him to prove it starts now.

New York Jets: Final mock drafts from ESM’s experts

As the commissioner prepares to take the podium, ESM’s New York Jets experts put names in the ten slots offered to them in Cleveland.

You’ve endured countless mock drafts leading to this weekend…what’s three more?

As the NFL Draft prepares to welcome 260 names into their league, beginning with 32 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network), ESM’s New York Jets experts temporarily assume the role of general manager as they map out a plan for Gang Green’s ten picks spread over the next three days…

Geoff Magliocchetti

  • Round 1 (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
  • Round 1 (23rd overall): WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
  • Round 2 (34th overall): LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
  • Round 3: (66th overall): CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
  • Round 3 (87th overall): T Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
  • Round 4 (108th overall): RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
  • Round 5 (147th overall): G Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
  • Round 5 (155th overall): S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU
  • Round 6 (187th overall): TE Matt Bushman, BYU
  • Round 6: (227th overall): K Jose Borreagales, Miami (FL)

The macabre, yet inspiring truth of the matter is that the Jets sunk to depths so low last season that it’s almost impossible not to emerge from draft weekend on a positive note.

Barring an absolutely jaw-dropping transaction or selection with the second overall pick, Zach Wilson is going to be a New York Jet. Every pick made after that should be dedicated to making his life easier. One would assume that could lead to drafting a lot of offensive talent, but general manager Joe Douglas has stressed the importance of striking a balance with their draft surplus, and it’s hard to argue with that logic. The last thing the Jets should do is expect Wilson’s arrival to immediately change things. He’s going to need help to get the Jets back on track.

Eskridge, who holds a special connection to the Jets (assistant offensive line coach Jake Moreland served as the offensive coordinator in Kalamazoo), could be a young weapon for Wilson to work with and also help solve the problems the Jets have had in the return game since Andre Roberts left. Day two adds blocking reinforcements from the unlikely source of Football Championship Subdivision while they also handle their defensive woes. If Collins drops to Friday, the Jets cannot hesitate for a second. As they prepare to likely implement a 4-3 set, they added veterans of the formation like Jarrad Davis and Carl Lawson. A young veteran of the system like Collins can help the transition go even smoother.

The addition of Tevin Coleman to their triumvirate of young rushing projects allows the Jets to wait until Saturday to address their rushing situation, and Stevenson can potential be their first legitimate fullback project since the days of Tony Richardson. Bringing in Bushman, one of Wilson’s favorite targets in Provo, can help Wilson get even more comfortable in the offense. The leg of Borreagales can ensure that drives that reach the red zone can end in points…a desperate need for a developing offense…while also ending the cycle of post-Jason Myers kickers. Banks can be a day three gem as a left guard, competing with Alex Lewis for primary reps.

Brendan Carpenter

  • Round 1 (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
  • Round 1 (23rd overall): RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
  • Round 2 (34th overall): CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
  • Round 3: (66th overall): EDGE Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
  • Round 3 (87th overall): OL Ben Cleveland, Georgia
  • Round 4 (108th overall): WR Cade Johnson, South Dakota State
  • Round 5 (147th overall): OL Brenden James, Nebraska
  • Round 5 (155th overall): EDGE Jonathan Cooper, Ohio State
  • Round 6 (187th overall):  WR Austin Watkins, UAB
  • Round 6: (227th overall): S Brendon White, Rutgers

After the inevitable pick of Zach Wilson at second overall, the Jets elect to give him a premier weapon at No. 23. Clemson RB Travis Etienne is one of the top two backs in the entire draft and brings both rushing and receiving prowess to the offense.

The Jets need help on defense too, though, and bring in pieces in the next two rounds. At 34th, they bring in Asante Samuel, Jr. after electing to not go for one of the top-three corners in the opening stages. Samuel showed the ability to annoy receivers, but he has to cut down on the penalties. In round three, they add to the defense with Rashad Weaver out of Pittsburgh and bolster the offensive line with Georgia’s Ben Cleveland in two spots that need addressing.

With their final four picks of the mock, the Jets add two wide receivers, taking Cade Johnson out of South Dakota State and Austin Watkins out of UAB in rounds four and six, respectively. Sandwiching those picks are Brenden James out of Nebraska, and another edge rusher in Jonathan Cooper of Ohio State. The team’s needs are clear, and they stay within those lines in this final mock draft.

Dylan Price

  • Round 1 (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
  • Round 1 (23rd overall): IOL Alijah Vera Tucker, USC
  • Round 2 (34th overall): IOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama
  • Round 3: (66th overall): CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
  • Round 3 (87th overall): RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis
  • Round 4 (108th overall): EDGE Victor Dimukeje, Duke
  • Round 5 (147th overall): S James Wiggins, Cincinnati 
  • Round 5 (155th overall): LB Monty Rice, Georgia 
  • Round 6 (187th overall):  FB Ben Mason, Michigan
  • Round 6: (227th overall): WR Dax Milne, BYU

Let’s be real, even if you’ve been living under a rock you should know Wilson is the pick. His arm talent is unreal and he has the potential to be a superstar in the league if all goes right. The Jets have to surround him with talent and allow that to happen though, if they do, the Jets could finally have a franchise guy.

At 23, Alijah Vera Tucker is an immediate plug-and-play guy who excels in both the run and pass game. He can be a stalwart of the line for the next decade alongside Mekhi Becton. Eleven picks later, the Jets double dip with Dickerson. He’s one of the best linemen in the class, in my opinion, and he’s a freak of nature. If his right knee stays healthy he can be the right guard for the next decade alongside Becton and Tucker. He also brings versatility as a center.

Melifonwu and Wiggins are secondary additions. The Syracuse alum has the length to excel as an outside corner and his coverage skills are heavily underrated. He can be a steal at 66th. Meanwhile, Wiggins will be a special teamer with the potential to develop into a competent starter. Dimukeje and Rice are two athletes with developmental capabilities that couldn’t be overlooked. Both will be situational pieces to start, but their potential is sky high. Gainwell is my favorite running back in this class. He’s a productive back who can play in the slot and out of the backfield. Ben Mason joins him as another scheme fit at fullback, ideally becoming the Kyle Juszczyk of the offense.

This draft gives the Jets depth all over the board. Weapons out of the backfield. Two potential defensive back pieces for the future, two franchise linemen, and hopefully…finally…the franchise quarterback.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Kwity Paye speculation growing on eve of draft

kwity paye, new york giants

Tomorrow is the start of the 2021 NFL Draft. The New York Giants hold the eleventh overall pick in the first round of this year’s draft. The Giants are one of the first round’s biggest question marks. They could select any one from a list of prospects ranging from wide receiver to cornerback to edge rusher.

The Giants had a phenomenal free agency period where they fixed nearly every major weakness on their roster. New York went all-in on Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph as Daniel Jones’s new weapons. They also signed Adoree’ Jackson as their starting boundary cornerback opposite James Bradberry.

But this does not mean that the Giants will not draft a receiver or a cornerback for that matter. Both are still viable options. However, the new rumor heating up in the mill is that the Giants will take an edge rusher, filling a need that they did not fully address in free agency. One particular edge rusher has been linked to the Giants a lot in recent days: Kwity Paye out of Michigan. Could he be the pick for New York at eleven? And what would he bring to the Giants’ defense?

Could Kwity Paye go to the Giants?

By most analysts’ standards, Kwity Paye at eleven would be a reach for the Giants. His projected draft stock lands him in the late teens or mid-twenties. However, Paye would fill a clear need for the Giants on defense.

The Giants are lacking a true every-down edge rusher on their roster. But is Kwity Paye that guy? Kwity Paye would instantly give the Giants a boost off the edge, especially as a run-defender. Paye is a polished edge prospect and the safest edge prospect in this class. He has no red flags medically or with any character concerns. If the Giants want to make a safe pick and address the edge rusher position, Paye is the pick.

However, Kwity Paye is unlikely to be the best player on the board. There is a strong chance that an elite prospect like Jaylen Waddle, Devonta Smith, Micah Parsons, or Rashawn Slater will be on the board for the Giants due to the run on quarterbacks expected to go in the top ten. Taking Kwity Paye over any of those elite guys would be a hard sell to the fanbase.

Paye at eleven would be a reach, though he is a viable trade-down target. Additionally, if he is the pick at eleven, that selection will be scrutinized and put under a microscope, but Kwity Paye is still a very talented edge rusher. Paye is the top-ranked EDGE in this class according to Pro Football Focus. He had a 26% pass-rush win rate in 2020 while also being a tremendous run-defender (PFF).

In his final two collegiate seasons, Kwity Paye racked up 8.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss through 16 games. Paye was mainly a 5-tech in college, but he has experience playing outside linebacker, rushing out of a two-point stance as well. He might not be the fan-favorite pick, but Kwity Paye is one of the best defenders in this year’s class and he would be a big upgrade on the New York Giants defense.

New York Giants: Drafting Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith only makes Darius Slayton better

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants are pondering who to select with the eleventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. An argument has risen on Giants Twitter based on the team’s reported interest in top prospects. Fans are debating, should the Giants take one of the draft’s top wide receivers or one of the draft’s top cornerbacks?

One of the arguments against drafting a wide receiver with the eleventh overall pick is that the Giants already have a competent receiving corps. New York signed Kenny Golladay as its top receiving option this offseason. Opposite of him will be Darius Slayton in his third season. The dependable Sterling Shepard will move back into the slot.

On paper, that is a solid receiving trio. Behind the top three are a couple of quality depth options in John Ross and Dante Pettis. Fans are arguing that Darius Slayton is a quality secondary outside receiver, which is why the Giants should address a different position of need with their first draft pick. However, I will make a counterargument. Drafting an elite wide receiver talent at eleven overall will serve to maximize Darius Slayton’s talents and give Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense all the tools possible to find success in 2021.

How Darius Slayton benefits from the Giants going receiver at eleven

There are two elite wide receiver talents that the Giants are reportedly interested in at eleven overall. Alabam wideouts Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Devonta Smith was this year’s Heisman Trophy winner and is an elite talent that shattered records in 2020 at Alabama. Jaylen Waddle is considered by some to be the best wide receiver in this year’s draft class thanks to his game-breaking speed and rare athletic traits.

Darius Slayton is currently projected to be the Giants’ number two receiving option as their “Z” receiver. If the Giants were to draft Waddle or Smith, they would move into that number two role opposite of Golladay while Shepard continues to hold down the slot. This means Darius Slayton would fall to number four on the Giants’ receiver list.

Some view that as a negative for Big Play Slay. I think that this influx of additional receiver talent would benefit Darius Slayton and the Giants’ offense as a whole. Having four talented, starting-level receivers on the roster would allow the Giants to run more 14-personnel and four or five receiver sets. This would stretch opposing defenses’ secondaries thin, forcing a team’s fourth-string cornerback to be tasked with guarding Darius Slayton, a potential WR2 on some teams.

It is difficult to find depth at the cornerback position, similarly to wide receiver. But the pick of a wide receiver at eleven would give the Giants tremendous depth at the position to roast opposing secondaries lacking cornerback depth. Darius Slayton is likely talented enough to toast most fourth-string cornerbacks in the NFL on a play-by-play basis.

How Daniel Jones benefits, too

Additionally, having so much wide receiver talent on the roster and on the field at the same time makes life a whole lot easier for Daniel Jones. The Giants’ receivers struggled to gain separation and make plays for Jones in 2020. With such an influx in talent in 2021, that problem would dissipate and Daniel Jones would enjoy slinging the rock to a group of playmakers that could outmatch nearly any secondary in the NFL.

The New York Giants cannot go wrong at eleven overall in the 2021 NFL Draft

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The 2021 NFL Draft will take place this week. The New York Giants hold the eleventh overall pick in this year’s draft. This year’s draft class is loaded with talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Many believe that this could be the first draft ever where the first ten selections are all offensive players.

The top talents in this year’s class are being pushed down the board by the loaded quarterback class. Four quarterbacks could go in a row to kick off the first round this year. This is setting it up for talented players to fall right into New York’s lap at eleven.

The Giants cannot go wrong at eleven overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. There is a long list of talented players that will be available for the Giants with their first draft choice. New York will walk away from Thursday night with a stud.

The Giants’ long list of options

At nearly every position of need, there will be valuable talent on the board for the Giants in round one. Two stud wide receivers could potentially be on the board. Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, both of which are prospects that are considered top-ten talents, are likely to be available at eleven. Either one of these stellar Alabama wideouts would make excellent complementary pieces opposite of Kenny Golladay.

The Giants’ biggest need on defense is at edge rusher. New York is still looking for a stud every-down pass-rusher to line up outside of offensive tackles. Jaelan Phillips out of Miami is a top talent with medical red flags that are pushing him down draft boards. Phillips, like Smith and Waddle, is also a top-ten-talent that will not be selected in the first ten picks. If the Giants are comfortable with Jaelan’s medicals, he could be a grand-slam selection to solve meet their pass-rush needs.

The Giants could also address the offensive line at eleven. Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater are stud offensive tackle prospects unlikely to make it out of the top ten. But if they fall to eleven, Sewell or Slater might be too good to pass up for the Giants, despite the fact that they went offensive tackle in round one last year. Alijah Vera-Tucker is another offensive line prospect that the Giants could take to fill their need at offensive guard in round one.

Two cornerbacks, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain, are also intriguing options at eleven. Albeit, cornerback is not a position of great need for the Giants. But these are two talented corners that New York could consider in a “best-player-available” strategy.

Of course, Micah Parsons is now expected to fall outside of the top ten. This time last year, Parson was expected to be a top-five pick in this year’s draft. Some off-the-field question marks have hurt his draft stock, though, causing this draft class’s best defender to be a top candidate for the Giants at eleven.

The list goes on and on. There are so many talented draft prospects that will be available for New York to select on Thursday night that it will be nearly impossible for them to mess the first round up. Giants fans are a tough crowd to please, but it should not be hard to satisfy this fan base in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.