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2021 NFL Draft: Virginia OLB Charles Snowden

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 Louisville at Virginia Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Heading into his senior season, Virginia outside linebacker Charles Snowden was seen as a possible second-day pick, possibly as high as the third round. But then, midway through the 2020 season, Snowden fractured his ankle. That will certainly kill a guy’s draft stock, and current mock drafts have Snowden in the fifth or even sixth round.

Snowden is still rehabbing and was not able to run at his pro day. He did participate in a few activities, including bench press. He put up 21 bench press reps, showing very good strength for a 6’7” OLB. But not being able to run hurts. Snowden was never going to be a “fast” LB, but his length and football IQ make up for that. If he loses even a step, it could be too much and NFL teams just can’t know that right now.

His frame is really the best thing going for Snowden. At 6’7”, he has outstanding size for an OLB. That gives him an advantage in pass coverage, and helps him keep blockers at bay. And keep in mind, Snowden came to college as a raw 205 lb OLB. In an NFL strength and conditioning program, Snowden may be able to put on some more weight and keep up his quickness.

That raw freshman quickly developed a reputation for making big plays. Here’s probably the first big play of his career.

That’s current NY Giants QB Daniel Jones he’s tracking down, pretty quick running with the football. You can see how Snowden’s length prevents the OL from really engaging him on the block. He’s able to get release and then track down Jones. This play effectively ended the game, forcing Duke into a do-or-die 4th-and-16.

Snowden finished his career with 15 sacks and 30.5 TFLs. He’s certainly a capable pass rusher. But his biggest strength may be in pass coverage. His length means he covers so much ground. He’s also a very intelligent player and always seems to be in the right place. As a sophomore, Snowden led the nation’s LB in pass breakups and passes defended. That pass coverage ability will help him get on the field in the NFL.

This isn’t a good view of the play, but Snowden is on the underneath zone. He reads the pass and uses every inch of his 6’7” frame to reach out and snag the INT.

This is a different type of play, but another impressive INT. He sees he’s not going to get to the QB, so he reads the pass and jumps in front of it. And then has the length and the athleticism to come up with that ball. Just a tremendous play.

Off the field, we know Snowden is a leader and won’t cause trouble. He was active in The Groundskeepers, a community outreach group made up of UVA football players and focused on unity. Virginia football players such as Eugene Monroe, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and (of course) Chris Long have been vocal NFL players pushing for change both in and out of football. Those guys were all first round draft picks and All-Pros. So Snowden isn’t there yet. But he could get there, and he is poised to continue in their legacy.

Also, if he doesn’t work out at OLB, maybe he can move to TE. This play comes off a fake FG, but Snowden makes a nice play on a ball thrown behind him and over the wrong shoulder.