Last season the Cincinnati Bengals struggled to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That was one key area that they knew they needed to improve in this offseason. Adding free agent Trey Hendrickson was a great start, but it was not enough. The Bengals hit this need hard in the 2021 NFL Draft by adding three defensive ends.
At the beginning of the fourth round, the Bengals selected Tulane’s Cameron Sample. Sample played stand-up defensive end this season, but lined up inside the year before. He even lined up in a 0-technique over the center in some pass rush situations.
His versatility makes him a great fit for defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s scheme, but as the clips below will show, he brings much more than that to the table.
There is a lot to see in this first clip, but the first thing I’ll focus on is how he quickly he gets to the tackle’s hip. This acceleration puts massive pressure on the offensive tackle and forces him to turn to the outside to try to stop the speed rush. This is how you set up the inside move, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Sample does a great job of getting the tackle’s hands off of him and dipping his shoulder low as he turns the corner. He shows fast hands and excellent flexibility in his lower body.
On this play he demonstrates the tools he needs to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL.
On this play he once again shows his quickness.
Sample threatens the tackle to the outside, before stunting into the B-gap. He is so quick, that the tackle barely gets a hand on him and the quarterback is in imminent danger.
The QB tries to escape, but Sample grabs him by the jersey and pulls him to the ground.
Sample lined up in a 4i comes off and strikes 74 pic.twitter.com/18NrlKQvyY— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) May 4, 2021
The first couple of clips focused on his burst and quickness, but Sample can win with power too. Just look at his hip explosion in this clip. He gets under the guard’s pads and drives him back into the backfield.
In order to make the most of this, he’ll need to develop some release moves. His hands are very quick, but he does not utilize them enough. This will need to be developed in order to maximize his potential.
Sample comes off to make the tackle pic.twitter.com/fJIJGsHYGw— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) May 4, 2021
His strength also shows in the run game.
Here the offense tries to block him with an H-back. Sample strikes him and drives him back. Notice how Sample keeps his feet moving. As the runner breaks inside, Sample reaches out one arm and is able to bring him down for a short gain. Once again, he’d be in better shape if he used his hands to disengage from the blocker, but he still makes the play.
One thing that stands out about Sample on film is how many passes he bats down. He seems to have a real knack for it. This is a skill. The defender is initially trying to get to the quarterback, but if he doesn’t win with his first move he needs to have a counter and get his eyes to the quarterback. When the quarterback starts to take his hand off the ball, the defender needs to react by getting his hands up in the air. Sample is excellent at this.
Sample’s draft stock rose considerably after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl. Playing at in the American Athletic Conference at Tulane, Sample was not seeing NFL-level competition week in and week out, but at the Senior Bowl he was matched up against the nation’s best.
Here he lines up against Tennessee’s Trey Smith in OL/DL one-on-ones. Sample steps to the outside, threatening Smith and getting him to turn his hips. Sample then cuts back inside and has a straight path into the backfield.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this clip though is how he finishes the drill. He runs all the way back to the defense as he is supposed to.
Sample has an excellent set of tools to become an incredible pass rusher at the next level. He has powerful explosive hips, quickness, and flexibility. His hands are fast, but he hasn’t developed pass rush moves or get off moves that properly use them. This is one area that defensive line coach Marion Hobby can work on with him.
The potential is there. Sample could be a star pass rusher for the Bengals with a little work.