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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Cameron Sample

  • The Draft Network
  • January 9, 2021
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Cameron Sample didn’t have many scholarship offers coming out of college, but he had a terrific career at Tulane and is firmly on the NFL’s radar. Sample doesn’t have a desirable long and lean athletic frame, but his power, grip strength, built-in leverage, processing skills, and versatility make him an appealing prospect. Tulane played him all across the defensive front seven including as a defensive tackle, defensive end, and stand-up rush linebacker. At the next level, Sample’s best fit comes as a base 4-3 defensive end that should get opportunities to rush interior gaps on long and late downs. As a run defender, he is stout at the point of attack and his heavy hands help him control reps. As a pass rusher, he has a potent bull rush, and his rush counters developed nicely in 2020. While there are some limitations given Sample’s modest physical gifts, at a minimum he can be a spark plug rotational defensive lineman that brings versatility to his team. 

Ideal Role: Base end that gets chances to rush from the interior on long and late downs.

Scheme Fit: 4-3.


Written by: Joe Marino 

Games watched: SMU (2020), East Carolina (2020), Memphis (2020), South Alabama (2020), FIU (2019) 

Best Game Studied: South Alabama (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: SMU (2020) 

First-Step Explosiveness: Sample is quick and fluid off the ball, but he won’t be confused as explosive. He releases cleanly from both a stand-up position and with his hand in the dirt. While he isn’t likely to put much stress on offensive tackles with his first step, it’s a touch more effective when he gets a chance to rush interior gaps.  

Flexibility: Sample has modest flexibility throughout his frame. While he isn’t bursty and bendy off the edge, he can rush with tilt and press tight angles. He does have some challenges reducing his surface area to complement his rush plan and is often forced to play through blocks. 

Hand Counters: Sample’s rush plan is based off of his bull rush, but I’ve seen him deploy push-pull moves, club-rip, and one-arm stabs. With that said, he isn’t the most efficient at stringing together moves and he needs to find more urgency getting to his secondary moves. He keeps his hands engaged, but he wins more with pop in his hands than he does with timely swipes and counters. 

Length: Sample has modest length. While his grip strength and hand power help him keep his pads clean, he doesn’t have the arm length to truly play with consistent extension. With that said, Sample is a consistent tackler and his modest length doesn’t present any challenges in that regard. 

Hand Power: Sample features heavy and violent hands that are capable of stunning blockers and enable him to take control of reps. His swipes are powerful and he can break the grip of opponents who get their hands on him. His bull rush is effective because of his built-in leverage and powerful lower body, but his initial punch is truly what helps him gain control. 

Run Defending: Sample competes hard for his gap(s) against the run. His heavy hands, built-in leverage, and powerful lower half make it difficult for blockers to move him out of his fit. He processes and diagnoses blocking schemes well and knows where he is supposed to be. He sets firm edges and has the power to squeeze gaps. 

Effort: There’s no questioning Sample’s effort—he brings it on every snap. I appreciate how willing he is to rally to the football and chase plays down from distances. He’s never content being blocked and battles through the whistle on every down.  

Football IQ: Sample has played defensive tackle, defensive end, and stand-up rush linebacker for Tulane and never looks out of place when it comes to processing and responding. He is deliberate about playing with leverage, under control, and with his hands engaged. Sample plays with good angles and is an outstanding tackler. 

Lateral Mobility: Sample has enough lateral mobility to survive on the interior, but he can get exposed in a stand-up position. He competes hard but he won’t be confused as nimble flowing toward the sideline. He is a strong backside run defender when he needs to pursue down the line of scrimmage. 

Versatility: Tulane played him all along the defensive line and as a rush linebacker in a stand-up position. With that said, it’s unlikely that NFL teams will use him in that stand-up role, but he does have appeal as a base 4-3 end that can also rush from the interior. Sample has value as a run defender and pass rusher from a variety of spots on the defensive line. 

Prospect Comparison: Jonathan Babineaux (2005 NFL Draft, Atlanta Falcons) 


TDN Consensus: 71.38/100

Joe Marino: 73.00/100

Kyle Crabbs: 70.00/100

Jordan Reid: 71.50/100

Drae Harris: 71.00/100

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