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 is an ideal fit for their defensive scheme.
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 the Bulldogs' record 15 players selected this past weekend.
Despite the star power around him, the Dolphins never lost sight of Tindall throughout the pre-draft process.
"He was a player that we had been targeting throughout the process," general manager Chris Grier said. "We met with him in Indianapolis [at the NFL combine] and really enjoyed our time with him. We brought him down here on a [top] 30 visit, spent a lot of time with him here as well. For us, it's the versatility, the speed is what we like. He can play, he has the ability to play all three downs and play special teams, as well.
"In talking to [Georgia coach] Kirby Smart the other day again about him, he was just talking about what tremendous speed and toughness and the character of the kid 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 turned in his best collegiate season as a senior in 2021, posting 67 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
He called his uptick in production the result of extra time spent with Georgia linebackers coach Glenn Schumann, and a renewed mentality entering the season.
"I just took extra time and watched film with him. I feel like I knew what I had to do," Tindall said. "I was on a mission before the season started ... like I have to get this done. I would say the biggest thing is probably just my mindset. My mindset was do or die."
How Tindall was used last season helps in deciphering what his role with the Dolphins will be, particularly as a rookie. Grier said Georgia took advantage of Tindall's 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash, using him as a pass-rusher, quarterback spy and in coverage.
Miami blitzed on 38% of its opponents' dropbacks last season, the second-highest rate in the NFL. That type of aggression is why Tindall feels his skill set perfectly suits 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 at Mike, Will. They are very versatile and I feel like I fit into it."
As enticing 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 compete with 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 is likely to be worked into the Dolphins' rotation as soon as he grasps the scheme.
Miami also added an outside linebacker in the seventh round, Cameron Goode, who has an uphill battle to crack the initial 53-man roster but could sneak into the team's pass-rush rotation with a strong summer camp.
With only four picks to work with and an unwillingness to part with any of its five picks in the first three rounds of next year's draft, the Dolphins had to take what they could get, whichever way the board fell.
They left their facility Saturday thrilled with the way it did.
"You want to feel good about the players that you add," coach Mike McDaniel said. "The bottom line is that we need some Miami Dolphins that our locker room can embrace and that can make the players that we have better and make the team better.
"That's what we did and we feel great about that."