The Cincinnati Bengals are in desperate need of improving their sack numbers. In 2022, the Bengals finished 29th in the NFL with 30 sacks, per NFL.com. With the personnel remaining close to the same on defense, predicting who will lead the team in sacks should be easy.
However, there are several players who would like to make this “contest” much more interesting. And hopefully they will. Below are some of the pass rushers who will be getting after opposing quarterbacks this season.
In the end, although foreseeable, we will arrive at who we predict will lead the Bengals in sacks in 2023.
All statistics are provided by Pro Football Reference.
5. Cam Sample
Cam Sample is heading into his third season after being selected in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. The former Tulane Green Wave defensive end has 3.5 sacks and 19 pressures thus far in his young NFL career.
Sample's ability to make a significant leap in production will depend, in part, on how much playing time he receives. He played 40% of the defensive snaps last year but will have to hold off first-rounder Myles Murphy for that percentage not to fall.
Cincinnati will look to get Murphy on the field as soon as possible. With the Bengals finishing near the bottom of the NFL in sacks and drafting an edge rusher in the first round, the pressure will be on to get Murphy on the field sooner rather than later. Those snaps could come at the expense of Sample.
The third-year pro must make the most of the preseason pass rush opportunities given to him. If not, his 40% of snaps from last season could take a dip.
However, if Sample can hold off Murphy, we will see just as much of him as last year—perhaps more. Sample is a disciplined edge defender who plays well against the run and pass.
Sample has also shown the ability to get to the quarterback from the defensive tackle spot.
Sample's versatility should keep him on the field in 2023. Adding more sacks to his résumé is something we should look forward to. However, do not expect him to do it at the same rate as other players on the Bengals' defense.