The 2021 Georgia Bulldogs were simply stacked on defense. They will be putting impact players into the NFL this year at every level of defense. There are so many good Georgia defenders in this year’s draft that it’s actually easy to miss some of them.
Linebacker Channing Tindall is one of those players who is slipping through the cracks at the national level. He is overshadowed by his more well-known and prestigious teammates, but is a good player in his own right and could become a good starter for his future NFL team.
The New York Giants need to find a long-term answer at linebacker, as well as upgrade the speed of their defense at the second level. Could Tindall be a good value and an answer to both questions?
Prospect: Channing Tindall (41)
Games Watched: vs. Clemson (2021), vs. Arkansas (2021), vs. Auburn (2021), vs. Alabama (2021 SEC Championship)
Games Played: 38
Tackles For a loss: 16.0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Games Played: 15
Tackles For a loss: 7.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Best: Athleticism, aggressiveness, mental processing, versatility
Worst: Block shedding
Projection: A starting off-ball linebacker with scheme diversity.
(Tindall is Georgia linebacker number 41)
UGA linebacker Channing Tindall is a smart, athletic, aggressive, and versatile defender.
Tindall primarily lined up as an off-ball linebacker for the Bulldogs, but was also frequently used as a blitzer and occasionally as an EDGE defender as well. Tindall is an active communicator before the snap, helping to get his teammates lined up and in position to make plays. He is a remarkably quick processor, reading, diagnosing, and reacting to the offensive play very quickly.
Tindall features an explosive burst when playing downhill. He routinely flies to the ball when playing in space and reads an underneath pass or running ball. He generally takes smart angles to the ball, maximizing his athleticism to the stop as quickly as possible and putting himself in position to make good form tackles. Tindall is a very rangy defender, both playing downhill in run defense and when playing in space as a coverage player.
Tindall is quick to get depth in his coverage drops and is able to patrol a decently-large area of the field. He is a disciplined coverage player, doing a good job of picking up and passing off receivers who enter his zone. He also does a good job of keeping his eyes in the backfield and reacts very quickly to what the quarterback does. Tindall has a quick downhill trigger and closes fast on underneath passes or screens. He is also a capable run defender who is able to stack and shed tight end blocks, effectively navigate the traffic around the line of scrimmage, and is a hard-hitting tackler.
Tindall was also a frequent pass rusher in Georgia’s blitz schemes. He rushed from both an off-ball linebacker position and off the edge. He made good use of his downhill burst and physicality to stress blockers, and was often able to create free rushing lanes for other rushers when he didn’t create pressure personally.
Tindall is a smart linebacker who processes information very quickly, but he doesn’t seem to be truly instinctive. He often needs to see the play begin to develop before making his diagnosis, as opposed to anticipating the play beforehand. Combined with his aggressive play, this can get Tindall in trouble occasionally. He can bite hard on misdirection, and take himself out of position before he is able to recover.
Tindall is also densely built, but lacks the size to stack and shed offensive line blocks. He can get hung up on offensive linemen at times, which can make him ineffective as a pass rusher or run defender. He will need to be put in positions where he is kept clean by his defensive linemen at the NFL level.
Overall Grade: 7.5
Channing Tindal ultimately projects as a starting off-ball linebacker with position and scheme versatility at the NFL level. He will likely begin his career as a rotational linebacker, though his exact role may vary with the defense into which he is drafted.
Tindall has the athleticism, mental processing, and range to be an effective coverage or nickel linebacker, which might be his best role to start. Likewise, his burst should make him an effective blitzer, particularly for teams that like to scheme free runs to the quarterback. His downhill play and hard-hitting tackles should give him “three down” versatility, but teams might want to work on his ability to shed blocks before putting him on the field in short-yardage situations.
Tindall should ultimately become a starting linebacker with the ability to contribute in every phase of the game. His mental processing and pre-snap communication suggest that he could be developed as a MIKE linebacker at the NFL level as well as an outside linebacker.
Tindall’s athleticism and versatility should allow him to find a home and role in almost any defense run at the NFL level.