The Miami Dolphins selected Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall with the 102nd pick in the NFL Draft on April 29.
The 6-2, 230-pound linebacker comes to Miami after winning a national championship with the Bulldogs this past season looking to earn reps on a unit that needed some depth. He will join the likes of Jerome Baker, Andrew Van Ginkel, Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley and Sam Eguavoen.
Tindall was a rotational starter while with the Bulldogs, but he had a productive 2021 season, recording 7 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 19 quarterback hits, and 5.5 sacks while earning a spot on the AP All-SEC second team.
However, stats are just a piece of the puzzle when evaluating prospects. We’ve decided to dive into some Georgia All-22 to decipher how Tindall can help the Dolphins this season and in the future.
One of the first traits that stands out while watching Tindall is how much Georgia used him as a blitzer, specifically on stunts and twists. Tindall had a ton of quarterback pressures off these plays alone.
The clip above is a great example of how effective he can be on stunts. Tindall turns a really tight corner against Alabama’s left tackle — Giants top-10 pick Evan Neal — and gets a nice hit on the quarterback.
Tindall had a 23.1 percent pass rush win rate last season, which ranked 10th amongst FBS linebackers, according to PFF. Tindall won those reps from a number of spots too. He can line up on the edge, blitz interior gaps, and loop around the outside of the offensive line effectively.
Miami loves to blitz its linebackers while also using stunts to get them free hits on the quarterback. Tindall can step in right away and become a weapon in returning defensive coordinator Josh Boyer’s exotic blitz packages.
Another one of Tindall’s standout traits is his range on the second level thanks to his elite athletic ability. There are countless reps of him starting in the middle of the field before exploding into the boundary to make a tackle.
The rep above is an excellent example of just while also showing Tindall’s ability to deal with contact. Some linebackers with his athletic profile would have gotten derailed by the climbing offensive tackle, but Tindall is so fast and strong, that he just shrugs the contact off and makes the tackle anyway.
Tindall’s athletic ability on film is a bit of a slow burn, but his NFL combine numbers make it pretty easy to see just how explosive he is. He recorded a 4.47 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical jump, and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump, which all rank above the 95th percentile.
The Dolphins need more speed on the second level next to Baker. Players like Roberts and Riley are more “thumpers” who excel coming downhill to defend the run. Teams need those players, but with the NFL becoming more pass-heavy, they are becoming less valuable every season.
While speed and pass rush ability are at a premium for linebackers in the modern NFL, their primary responsibility is still to defend the run. Tindall was a little bit up and down when it came to staying patient, reading his keys, and triggering downhill.
However, by the time the SEC Championship Game against Alabama rolled around, there already was marked improvement. The play above shows Tindall weaving through a lot of bodies to make the tackle near the line of scrimmage.
He immediately saw the offense line collapse down to his right, and correctly triggered to that side of the field. Although Tindall has the natural strength to deal with contact from offensive linemen, he will benefit from Miami’s scheme since it focuses on keeping linebackers clean of contact.
When Tindall is kept clean, he’s much faster to decipher what offenses are trying to do. He still needs to get more consistent in this area, though. He can struggle to find the ball when there is a lot of motion in the backfield, and he wasn’t an every-down player, meaning his experience is limited.
Tindall likely will have some growing pains in this area during his rookie season, but he has all the tools to make it a strength of his game eventually.
Tindall is still learning how to read and trigger downhill from the second level consistently, but when he’s around the line of scrimmage he’s got the skills to be a game wrecker.
One of Tindall’s underrated traits is his ability to slip around blockers near the line of scrimmage. He’s excellent at making himself skinny to shoot gaps and create backfield penetration like in the clip above.
Tindall sees the inside run and beats Arkansas’ left tackle with his lateral agility to get into the backfield untouched. This is a valuable trait to have for Miami’s defense because Tindall will likely get a lot of reps where he’s walked up to the line of scrimmage in order to blitz.
Knowing he’s also capable of making plays against the run should let defensive coordinator Josh Boyer feel more comfortable using him in those scenarios.
As mentioned above, the NFL is a pass-first league. Linebackers are constantly being forced to cover tight ends, running backs, and deal with an inordinate amount of play-action fakes in today’s game.
Tindall played in coverage for 205 snaps last season, according to PFF. That’s solid experience in one season, but Tindall wasn’t asked to do a ton in coverage for the Bulldogs. The clip above is a good example of what his responsibilities typically looked like.
He does a good job posting up tight ends in the middle of the field and dropping into shallow zones. However, NFL offenses will stress Tindall more and will force him to make harder decisions.
He doesn’t quite have the zone coverage processing skills to be someone who consistently makes plays on the ball. He likely will make mistakes in coverage during his rookie season, but there is no doubt he has the natural athletic ability to get better.
Theoretically, Tindall has the traits to be an elite coverage linebacker. He’s fast over distance, which should allow him to carry tight ends down the seam, and he’s explosive in short distances, which should allow him to close down zone windows.
He just needs more reps and some time to get his processing and assignments down.