Charles Snowden: Out to prove that he’ll be ready for NFL training camp
Charles Snowden, at 6’6”, lining up on the edge, cuts an imposing figure, particularly on passing downs, where he can create havoc in the pass rush or drop back in coverage.
His versatility was a foundation piece for Bronco Mendenhall’s defenses the past three years at Virginia, and now Snowden looks to be a Day 2 or Day 3 NFL Draft prospect.
Assuming: he can convince NFL front-office personnel that he’s on track to full recovery from the broken right ankle suffered in UVA’s win over Abilene Christian in November.
The rehab from the break and subsequent surgery is “going really well,” Snowden told reporters after Virginia’s Pro Day this week.
“I’m able to run and cut and jump and good stuff like that. That’s been really good,” Snowden said. “The biggest thing kind of scouts and personnel told me is really focused on kind of getting back healthy, making sure that full go, so that around training camp and football time starts that I’m ready to go.”
- PFF Grade 2018: 67.3
- Vitals: Had 17 QB pressures and five sacks in 131 pass rush snaps; allowed seven catches in nine targets for 95 yards on 90 pass coverage snaps.
- Outlook: Day 2 or Day 3 NFL draft pick. Somebody will get a steal with a 6’7″ outside ‘backer who can rush the QB and contribute in coverage.
Ahead of the injury, it had been an up-and-down senior season for Snowden, who got the lowest Pro Football Focus season grade of his career in 2020, 67.3, with subpar efforts in the losses to Clemson and N.C. State, in which he didn’t register a QB pressure in either, and then the game tape-worthy output in the upset of North Carolina, in which he had four sacks and a forced fumble.
His strengths: speed to get around the edge and force quarterbacks to step up in the pocket, and the ability to drop back in pass coverage to help defensive coordinators disguise what they’re doing pre-snap in terms of where pressure might be coming from.
His weaknesses: at just 232 pounds, he’s a bit light, and several scouting reports that I reviewed while researching this article noted that he’s particularly light in the legs, which might make him susceptible to NFL linemen when they engage him in blocks.
He’ll probably have to put on 15-20 pounds while working to maintain what he can of the speed that makes him so attractive as an edge pass rusher.
He’d likely be working on that now, but the matter of just getting back to form from the ankle injury is first and foremost on the list of priorities in the here and now.
“I’ve understood that this is going to be a long process, but one thing that has kind of helped me is, every day I can kind of do a little bit more than I could the day before,” Snowden said. “I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I know they were laying a brick every hour. So that’s what I’m just doing, is just everyday is making small victories.”
In addition to the rehab work, Snowden has been studying up on different defense schemes.
“I’ve been really looking at studying 4-3 defenses so that when I talk to 4-3 teams, I’m speaking their language, I understand the concepts, so when I go in those interviews, I’m fully prepared because here we ran a 3-4, so I was familiar with it. So that was probably the biggest thing that I can really look to what I was doing to prepare for this,” Snowden said.
“I don’t foresee it being a problem because, like, playing 3-4 outside linebacker, that’s something I’d never done in high school, either,” Snowden said. “My coaches here at UVA worked with me early, and kinda helped me make that transition. I know that I’m capable of adapting and molding my game to however I need to. I’m confident in my ability to kind of figure out whatever I have going on and make myself an impact player.”
Besides rehab, getting better every day, studying different defenses, Snowden has a bit of PR work to do to sell that he’ll be ready for training camp this summer.
“I can’t control how (NFL execs) feel how they view the injury. The injury is reality, and that’s not within my control. So I’ve not really stressed myself out about worrying about how they’ll perceive that,” Snowden said. “I know that I’m rehabbing really well and really diligently, and everything’s going ahead of schedule. And so I know that it won’t be a problem going forward. And so if that’s kind of how they feel, I mean, I can’t tell them how to feel, but I’m, I’m confident in myself that wherever I do end up, I’ll be healthy, and I’ll be able to contribute.
Story by Chris Graham