At the top of the fourth round, the Cincinnati Bengals chose to double dip at defensive line by selecting their second pass-rusher of the weekend in Tulane’s Cameron Sample.
It’s been 31 years since the Bengals drafted a Tulane prospect, but Sample has the makings of being another quality fourth-round defensive linemen for Cincinnati.
What Sample brings to the Bengals
The more that you can do, the more value you have. Sample is listed as an edge rusher, but he does a lot of damage when rushing from the inside. In 2018 and 2019, Sample actually played more snaps inside and over the opposing offensive tackle than on the edge. Last year, Sample played primarily on the edge, and produced a pass rush grade of 90.4 per Pro Football Focus. He finished the season with 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
At this year’s Senior Bowl, Sample practiced all over the line and produced at 78% win rate during the week of practice. It was the highest win rate amongst defensive linemen, per PFF, and Sample took most of his snaps at defensive tackle.
Sample’s size (6-3, 267) makes him an ideal candidate to be kicked inside on passing downs, while having the natural leverage to defend the run on the edge. He tested with above average explosion for his size, and that will allow him to shoot gaps on passing downs and get in the backfield.
Why the Bengals picked Sample
The need for pass rush was dire for the Bengals this offseason. They signed Trey Hendrickson and Larry Ogunjobi in free agency, and drafted Joseph Ossai just a round earlier on Friday night. Sample gives them another explosive pass-rushing chess piece.
The additions of Hendrickson and Ossai gave the Bengals four legitimate defensive ends, and Sample looks primed to be the fifth guy on the final roster. But since he has experience and the ability to rush inside, he adds depth at defensive tackle as well. That depth is sorely needed since Ogunjobi and Mike Daniels are only signed through 2021.
It’s also worth mentioning that Sample is still just 21 years old, the same age as Ja’Marr Chase, Jackson Carman, and Ossai. The Bengals are clearly prioritizing youth in this draft, unless it’s just sheer coincidence. Sample showing out at the Senior Bowl at that age certainly helped his case to be drafted at the top of Day 3.
Sample has the making of being a quality rotational pass-rusher with youth and athleticism on his side. That’s what you want in an early Day 3 selection.