Teams always like to think they’ve struck gold with undrafter free agents, but in Snowden’s case, some analysts expected him to be a third-round pick.
It’s the perfect time of year to let your imagination run wild about the supposed potential of undrafted free agents — the Bears had 15 for rookie minicamp — and that enthusiasm almost always fizzles by September when only a few make the roster as third-stringers and special teamers.
But outside linebacker Charles Snowden is a different case.
It’s a lingering mystery why he didn’t get picked after 21 tackles for loss over his final two seasons at Virginia. He is 6-foot-6, 243 pounds. Many analysts projected him to be drafted, and some slotted him to go in the third or fourth round.
Snowden’s best guess is teams were scared off by the season-ending ankle injury he suffered in November, which kept him out of Virginia’s pro day. He was not full-go for minicamp, either.
“I’m not sure really what happened,” Snowden said of the draft. “I was upset for a day, but now I’m just facing reality of the situation. I had one scholarship offer coming out of college so I’m used to being the underdog.
“Even if I had gone third or fourth round I’d still be wanting to go out there and prove myself. Obviously that does give you a little chip on your shoulder, but I wouldn’t say it consumes me.”
When the rest of the team arrives, whether it’s for Organized Team Activities or training camp, the 23-year-old will be studying under six-time Pro Bowler Khalil Mack.
Mack is the only certainty for the Bears at outside linebacker. After signing 30-year-old Robert Quinn to a $70 million contract last year, he produced two sacks in 548 snaps. The next-best option after him is journeyman Jeremiah Attaochu, who had five sacks for the Broncos last season.
“You can’t be a football player and not know the name Khalil Mack,” Snowden said. “So I’m excited to learn behind him.”