Charles Snowden didn't just slip in the draft; the highly-productive outside linebacker from Virginia tumbled completely out of it.
The 6-7, 240-pounder isn't entirely sure why; a season-ending ankle injury he sustained last November likely was the main culprit. But rather than wallowing in disappointment, Snowden dusted himself off and signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent.
"I'm not sure really what happened," Snowden said earlier this month during the team's rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. "I was kind of upset for a day but now [I'm] just facing the reality of the situation. I had one scholarship offer coming out of [high school], so I'm used to kind of being the underdog, kind of being put in those positions. But now I've got a great opportunity, and I'm just excited to work."
Pro Football Focus predicted that Snowden would be selected in the sixth round of the draft by the Minnesota Vikings at No. 199 overall. After the draft, NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt ranked the Virginia product as the second best undrafted free agent edge rusher available.
While some in his position no doubt would enter the NFL with a chip on their shoulder the size of a boulder, Snowden's is much smaller.
"I just want to be the best that I can be," Snowden said. "So even if I had gone third or fourth round, I'd still be wanting to go out there and prove myself, wanting to be the best football player I can be. So obviously that does add a little something—gives you a little chip on your shoulder—but, I mean, I wouldn't say it consumes me. I always want to be the best at everything I do no matter what, no matter what the situation is."
Snowden joins the Bears after playing in 45 games the past four seasons at Virginia, where he recorded 190 tackles, 15.0 sacks, 30.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Last year Snowden was named second-team All-ACC after compiling 44 tackles, a career-high 6.0 sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss in eight games before breaking his ankle Nov. 21 against Abilene Christian.
Two weeks before he was injured, Snowden was named ACC linebacker of the week after leading Virginia with 10 tackles, a career-high 4.0 sacks and one forced fumble in an upset win over North Carolina.
The ankle injury prevented Snowden from participating in the Senior Bowl as well as his pro day. And while that seemingly damaged his draft stock, it won't keep him from having a chance to earn an NFL roster spot.
Snowden didn't have much contact with the Bears during the pre-draft process; he's just happy they ultimately called to offer him a contract.
"We had spoken a couple times," Snowden said. "It wasn't too extensive, but I was extremely excited when they reached out after the draft."
Take an exclusive off-the-field look at Halas Hall during rookie minicamp as players arrive, get fitted for equipment, speak with the media and make their way around the Bears' practice facility.