Miami Dolphins rookie film study: LB Channing Tindall
The Miami Dolphins selected Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall with the 102nd pick in the April 29 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker arrives in Miami after winning a national championship with the Bulldogs last season, looking to gain reps on a unit that needed depth. He will join Jerome Baker, Andrew Van Ginkel, Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley and Sam Eguavoen.
Tindall was a rotating starter 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 in second AP All-SEC team.
However, statistics are only one piece of the puzzle when evaluating leads. We 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 when watching Tindall is how much Georgia used him as a blitzer, especially for stunts and twists. Tindall had a ton of quarterback pressure on those plays alone.
The clip above is a great example of how effective he is in stunts. Tindall spins a very tight corner against Alabama left tackle – Giants top 10 pick Evan Neal – and lands a good shot on the quarterback.
Tindall had a 23.1 percent hit rate last season, which ranked him 10th among FBS linebackers, according to PFF. Tindall has also won these reps on several occasions. He can line up on the edge, light up interior spaces, and effectively loop around the outside of the offensive line.
Miami loves to blitz their linebackers while using stunts to get free hits on the quarterback. Tindall can step in right away and become a weapon in the return of defensive coordinator Josh Boyer’s exotic blitz packages.
Another of Tindall’s notable traits is his second tier reach through his elite athletic ability. There are countless representatives of him starting in midfield before exploding into the boundary to make a tackle.
The rep above is a prime example of Tindall’s ability to handle contact. Some linebackers with his athletic profile would have been derailed by the escalating offensive tackle, but Tindall is so quick and strong that he simply ignores contact and makes the tackle anyway.
Tindall’s athletic ability on film is a little slow, but his combined numbers in the NFL make it pretty easy to see just how explosive he is. He recorded a dash of 4.47 yards by 40, a vertical jump of 42 inches, and a spread jump of 10 feet, 9 inches, all of which rank above the 95th percentile.
The Dolphins need more second-tier speed next to Baker. Players like Roberts and Riley are more “thumpers” who excel downhill to defend the run. Teams need these players, but with the NFL getting more pass-heavy, they’re becoming less valuable each season.
While speed and pass-rush ability are paramount for modern NFL linebackers, their primary responsibility is still to defend the run. Tindall was a bit up and down when it came to staying patient, reading her keys, and initiating a descent.
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However, by the time the SEC championship game against Alabama rolled around, there was already a marked improvement. The piece above shows Tindall weaving through plenty of bodies to make the tackle near the line of scrimmage.
He immediately saw the forward line crumble to his right and kicked in correctly on that side of the pitch. Although Tindall has the natural strength to handle offensive lineman contact, he will benefit from Miami’s plan as it focuses on keeping linebackers out of contact.
When Tindall is kept clean, he is much faster at deciphering the offenses he is trying to commit. However, it still needs to be more consistent in this area. He can struggle to find the ball when there’s a lot of movement in the backfield, and he wasn’t an all-around player, which means his experience is limited.
Tindall will likely have some growing pains in this area in his rookie season, but he has all the tools to eventually make it a strength in his game.
Tindall is still learning to read and trigger down from second tier consistently, but when he’s around the line of scrimmage he has the skills to be a play wrecker.
One of Tindall’s underrated traits is his ability to get around blockers near the line of scrimmage. He’s great for getting lean to dig holes and create penetration into the backfield like in the clip above.
Tindall sees the inside run and beats Arkansas’ left tackle with his sideways agility to enter the backfield intact. It’s a valuable trait to have on Miami’s defense, as Tindall will likely get plenty of reps where he walked to the line of scrimmage to blitz.
Knowing that he’s also capable of making plays against the run should make 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 forced to cover tight ends, running backs and deal with an inordinate amount of fake action plays in today’s game.
Tindall played cover for 205 snaps last season, according to PFF. It’s a solid one-season experience, but Tindall hasn’t been asked to do a ton of coverage for the Bulldogs. The clip above is a good example of what his responsibilities usually looked like.
He does a good job of posting tight ends in midfield and dropping into shallow areas. However, NFL offenses will further stress Tindall and force him to make tougher decisions.
He doesn’t quite have the area coverage processing skills to be someone who constantly plays on the ball. He’ll likely make some coverage mistakes in his rookie season, but there’s no doubt he has the natural athletic ability to improve.
Theoretically, Tindall has the characteristics to be an elite cover linebacker. He’s quick over distance, which should allow him to lead tight ends down the seam, and he’s explosive over short distances, which should allow him to shut down zone windows.
He just needs more reps and some time to complete his processing and assignments.