MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Channing Tindall will forever be the No. 102 pick in this year’s NFL draft.
To the Miami Dolphins, he was No. 1.
For Tindall, and for the Dolphins, two days of waiting finally ended late Friday night. The Dolphins took the Georgia linebacker with the 102nd overall pick, their first of this year’s draft. They brought out Larry Csonka, part of the 1972 perfect Dolphins team, to make the pick in Las Vegas.
Tindall visited the Dolphins earlier this month and was duly impressed.
“It felt like home,” Tindall said.
And now, it is home.
The draft concludes with Rounds 4-7 in Las Vegas on Saturday. Miami has three more picks to make — No. 125, midway through the fourth round, then two seventh-rounders toward the end.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder finished his last college season tied for third in tackles for Georgia, with 67 stops for the national champions. He had eight in the national championship game against Alabama, along with a sack and a career-best five quarterback pressures — capping what had been a huge breakout year, numbers wise, compared to his first three seasons.
“I was on a mission,” Tindall said.
And he did it all without starting. The Bulldogs used him as a reserve, and he had big numbers anyway — and wound up becoming the seventh member of Georgia’s defense, and ninth player from the Bulldogs overall, to get selected in the first three rounds of this draft.
“Man, it was so fun playing on that defense,” Tindall said.
It’s not unheard of for a team to not have any of the first 100 selections in an NFL draft. Or for a team to have no more than two picks out of the first 200. Or for a team to have no more than four picks in the draft’s entirety.
It’s all been done, several times.
But never all at once — that is, until now.
Barring a trade Saturday to change things up, this draft by the Dolphins will be like none other. They would be the first team in the Super Bowl era to have zero top-100 picks, only two picks in the first 200, and a total of no more than four picks in the entirety of the draft.
Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said in the days leading up to the draft that having only four picks only made it more important to use them wisely.
So far, he thinks, so good. Tindall’s speed — he’s been clocked at 4.47 seconds in the 40 — was among the things that got Miami’s attention.
“He’s a player that we had been targeting throughout the process. … The versatility, the speed is what we like,” Grier said.
Thursday’s opening day of the draft came and went with nary a peep from the Dolphins, who traded their first-round pick earlier this month as part of the haul that brought wide receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami from Kansas City.
Miami didn’t have a first-round pick for the 10th time in franchise history and the first since 2003. The Dolphins didn’t have a first-rounder that year (or 2002) because of a trade for running back Ricky Williams.
They didn’t get on the clock in this draft until late Friday night, when Tindall finally got to hear his name called. He already believes he’ll be a fit.
“I just want to be the best version of me,” Tindall said.
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