Ex-Georgia Bulldog Solomon Kindley hopes to rise up draft boards

Former Georgia left guard Solomon Kindley talks about how swimming has helped him in football at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Former Georgia guard Solomon Kindley, who has a late-round grade, hopes to swim his way up NFL teams draft boards.

Kindley could have returned to Georgia for his senior season to improve his draft status, but he elected to enter the NFL draft, which will be held April 23-25.

“Playing in the SEC prepared me for this because every week you’re going against a top-five player no matter where you are at,” said Kindley, who’s 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds.

Kindley, who is from Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t start playing football until the ninth grade.

» MORE: Top 10 C/OGs in NFL Draft

“I was a swimmer, and I played basketball,” Kindley said. “My first thing I did was swim, and then after that I started playing basketball. After I keep going, when I got to 16 and in the ninth grade, I started playing football.”

Kindley, for a big kid, was a pretty strong swimmer and was a lifeguard.

“I put in a lot of work,” Kindley said. “I love swimming. Swimming gives you a lot of conditioning. You keep going back and forth, back and forth, you get tired eventually.”

He continued to improve in football and landed a scholarship to Georgia.

“I knew my time was going to come if I worked hard and put everything first and kept God first,” Kindley said.

He redshirted as a freshman in 2016. He started the past three seasons, 32 games overall.

The past two seasons he was Georgia’s left guard after he played right guard as a redshirt freshman.

Kindley believes his versatility will help him make an NFL team.

“Inside zone and run blocking,” he said when asked about his favorite blocks.

He also reports participating in a number of interviews with NFL teams.

“I talked to Green Bay, Seattle, Arizona, Panthers, Rams, Jaguars, Giants,” Kindley said.

He also talked with legendary New England offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who had success with former Georgia linemen David Andrews, who wasn’t drafted, and Isaiah Wynn, who was drafted in the first round in 2018. He also plucked Shaq Mason after a Georgia Tech Pro Day workout in 2015.

“He likes big offensive lineman like (me),” Kindley said. “A good run blocker, a mauler like I am. It was a good conversation.”

Kindley plans to be a model citizen in the NFL.

“I’m one of the first to ever do it in my family,” Kindley said. “I’m an example for the next generation down the line, what path to follow. I have got little brothers and sisters that look up to me, so I’ve got to move right. I can’t do no wrong.”

Georgia tailback D'Andre Swift (left) and offensive lineman Solomon Kindley flex after Swift powered his way into the end zone. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

While Kindley may have to wait until the last day of the draft, the top center/guard in the draft should be either LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry or Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, who are projected to be selected late in the first round or early in the second round.

“I feel like I have the versatility to play both (guard and center),” Cushenberry said. “I’ve been playing center. I’m obviously a smart guy who can make calls. I won’t have any problems with that. But I can play both positions.”

Cushenberry was a tackle in high school.

“Once I signed at LSU, I taught myself how to snap during the time from February to when I enrolled on campus,” Cushenberry said. “I taught myself. And ever since I’ve been at LSU I’ve been a center and a guard.”

Cushenberry found some videos on YouTube with instructions on how to snap a football.

“Then once I got to campus I actually stole one of the balls from the equipment room and me and my roommate (Lindsey Scott), he was a quarterback my freshman year, so we would just snap,” Cushenberry said. “I got the rhythm.”

Cushenberry said the toughest players he faced in college were Auburn’s Derrick Brown and Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore.

Cushberry believes he has the temperament to play in the NFL.

“I’m a low-maintenance guy, don’t have a lot to say,” Cushenberry said. “But on the field I flip that switch. In my first years, it took longer to develop that vocal leadership, but once I took over the center job, I knew I had to step up.”

Ruiz bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times at the scouting combine.

“With Ruiz, I think he reminds me a lot of Travis Frederick when he was coming out,” said NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who was a scout for the Baltimore Ravens. “He's just firm and strong. He's consistent each and every game. He plays with great awareness.”

Comparing him with Frederick is pretty high praise. Frederick, who recently announced that he was retiring at age 29, was a five-time Pro Bowl player for the Dallas Cowboys.

“To me he’s a Steady Eddie, high floor, know-exactly-what-you’re-getting player who (has) a chance to be a Pro Bowl-caliber center,” Jeremiah said. “I'm a big fan of his.”

Also, Washington’s Nick Harris is a highly regarded interior-line prospect.

“He’s going to be a zone center,” Jeremiah said. “He’s 293 (pounds), and it’s almost an artificial 293. He’s puffed up to get there (to 303 at the combine). He’s going to play lighter.

“But having been around (Jason) Kelce with the Eagles and seeing him at a lighter weight just play at a very, very high level, that’s what you’re hoping you’re getting with Nick.”

AJC’s 2020 POSITION BY POSITION DRAFT SERIES

Quarterbacks: Joe Burrow leads classTop 10 QBs
Running backs: Cam Akers' life lessonTop 10 RBs
Tight ends: A surprise prospect from GeorgiaTop 10 TEs
Offensive line: Solomon Kindley risesTop 10 C/OGs
Part 5: Offensive line (tackles)
Part 6: Wide receivers
Part 7: Defensive tackle
Part 8: Defensive end
Part 9: Linebackers
Part 10: Safeties
Part 11: Special Teams
Part 12: Cornerbacks

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