The Cincinnati Bengals started off Day 3 by staying put and adding a versatile defensive lineman who may find his home inside with Cameron Sample.
This is the second straight defensive pick for the Bengals, who clearly need as much help along the defensive line as they can get after last season. They addressed this need a little when they added Trey Hendrickson in free agency, but that was after losing Carl Lawson and then eventually Geno Atkins getting cut as well.
Sample played defensive end in college, but he also has experience on the inside of the defensive line. He got a sack during the Senior Bowl from the defensive tackle position as well. It does seem like he will have some work ahead of him with technique.
Sample is a short-stepper with hip tightness and wasn’t able to convert enough pressures into sacks while playing outside. However, his skilled rush attacks and short-area footwork could give him advantages on the interior, where he can take more of a straight-line approach to the quarterback. He has quick hands and good upper-body strength, but it’s not a lock he’ll get used to battling NFL wide-bodies inside, despite his physical nature and toughness. Sample should become a solid, scheme-diverse defender with the ability to play strong-side end on early downs and reduce inside as a rusher. There could be teams who see him as a smaller three-technique if he can carry the weight.
Sample will likely fit into the rotation Cincinnati likes where he will still play some defensive end on running downs but kick inside in obvious passing situations. This isn’t the flashiest pick, but it may end up being one we look back on and being pretty happy with. It may be a year or two before we see Sample reach what he is expected to become, but not a bad way to start Day 3 at a position of need.
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