MIAMI — The Miami Dolphins had four picks in this year’s NFL Draft, including just one in the first three rounds. But in the third round (102nd overall), they grabbed a player who suits their defensive scheme perfectly.
Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall flew somewhat under the radar playing on a defense that included linebackers Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker. In fact, he was the ninth of 15 players selected by the Bulldogs last weekend.
Despite the star power around him, the Dolphins never lost sight of Tindall throughout the pre-draft process.
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“He was a player we had been targeting throughout the process,” general manager Chris Grier said. “We met him in Indianapolis [at the NFL combine] and really enjoyed our time with him. We brought him here on a [top] 30 visit, spent a lot of time with him here too. For us, it’s versatility, speed is what we like. He can play, he has the capacity to play the three tests and also to face special teams.
“Talking to [Georgia coach] Kirby Smart just the other day about him he was just talking about the tremendous speed and toughness and the character of the child and how Kirby really loved [Tindall] and thinks he’s going to be a really good player in the NFL.”
After playing sparingly in his first three seasons with the Bulldogs, Tindall had his best collegiate season as a senior in 2021, posting 67 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
He called his production surge the result of extra time with Georgia linebackers coach Glenn Schumann and a renewed mentality early in the season.
“I just took more time and watched a movie with him. I felt like I knew what I had to do,” Tindall said. “I was on a mission before the season started…like I had to. I would say the most important thing is probably just my mindset. My mindset was do or die.”
The way Tindall was used last season helps decipher what his role will be with the Dolphins, especially as a rookie. Grier said Georgia took advantage of Tindall’s 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash, using him as a passer, quarterback spy and as cover.
Miami blitzed 38% of opponents’ losses last season, the second-highest rate in the NFL. This type of aggression is why Tindall feels his skills are a perfect fit for his new team.
“The way they use their linebackers is different,” he said. “They use their linebackers everywhere. They put them on the edge sometimes, they put them on the line, they put them on Mike, Will. They’re very versatile and I feel like I fit in.”
As appealing as his skill set is, Tindall’s shortest path to early playing time will come on special teams, where Grier said he expects him to contribute. He will rival Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley and Brennan Scarlett for defensive reps at inside linebacker, but his ability to cover sideline to sideline sets him apart. He’s likely to be added to the Dolphins rotation as soon as he figures out the pattern.
Miami also added seventh-round outside linebacker Cameron Goode, who has an uphill battle to crack the initial 53-man roster but could squeeze into the team’s rotation with a strong summer camp.
With only four picks to work with and an unwillingness to part with any of their five picks in the first three rounds of next year’s draft, the Dolphins had to take what they could get, no matter what. how the painting fell.
They left their establishment on Saturday delighted with how it went.
“You want to feel good about the players you add,” coach Mike McDaniel said. “The bottom line is that we need Miami Dolphins that our locker room can embrace and that can make the players we have better and make the team better.
“That’s what we did and we feel very good about it.”