Ever since Tua Tagovailoa received good news about his hip after the latest checkup, the sports world has jumped back onto the Hawaiian prince’s bandwagon. After months of speculation, mostly negative, the Alabama quarterback has reclaimed his spot high atop mock draft boards. Now that everyone’s confidence has restored, where will Tagovailoa land in the NFL Draft? There are some in his camp that have suggested he may indeed be the number one pick. It makes sense for a Cincinnati Bengals team that needs everything including Jesus to restore their franchise. Most realists believe that spot has been reserved for LSU signal caller Joe Burrow though. So, assuming that theory holds true, what is the next best option for Tua Tagovailoa?
Tua’s legacy in the few short years while in Tuscaloosa have been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s thrown for 7,442 yards, 87 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. His name is associated with several records for the Crimson Tide, but none greater than that of a national champion. What he meant to the community is something legends are made of. Along with his statistical accolades, by association, Tua has drawn comparisons to current stars of the NFL. “Tua — he has the talent. He is so twitchy. I hate giving comparisons because everyone’s going to say, ‘Well, you think he’s Drew Brees.’ He reminds me of that (Brees) style of play, how quickly he goes through his progressions and how he keeps his feet tied with his eyes and just the way he plays the quarterback position,” said ESPN analyst Todd McShay. It seems to be the overall consensus among draft gurus and others in the sports family. That includes his former coach Nick Saban, who added another quarterback for comparison, “I think he’s a lot like Drew Brees. I always thought Aaron Rodgers was a lot like that as a player, too. Not overly big, accurate with the ball, really good judgment, decision-making. Those guys are the style of player. I would never say the expectation should be he would accomplish what those guys have. I’d never want to put that on a guy. But that’s the style of player he is.”
Now that we have the proper introductions, let’s look at a list of possible destinations for the Heisman runner-up:
Miami Dolphins: This has been the most speculated landing spot for Tagovailoa over the past year. As a matter of fact, the phrase “Tank for Tua” was the theme for the majority of that time. Much like Cincinnati, the Dolphins need a complete makeover. Even if you’re not a fan of the organization, it is widely known there is no greater need than that of a quarterback. Since the retirement of one of the greatest to ever play the position, Dan Marino, Miami has faced a consistent gauntlet of failures to find a replacement. So, if they don’t satisfy that glaring need, the fans may burn the city down. If selected at No. 5, Tagovailoa will have to bear the burden of carrying a team without weapons under second year coach Brian Flores. As a matter of fact, it will be before the ink dries on his rookie contract. This serves as quite a concern considering they have a barely serviceable offensive line, little wide receiver help, and average at best ball carriers. This does bring up another interesting possibility though. Remember, Miami has another pick in the 1st round. That selection could be used to employ the services of none other than Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. Such an idea of this reunion should send collective chills throughout the Dolphins nation. The chemistry and timing will already be there. No need for a trial run. The Dolphins would have a franchise quarterback and a playmaker at wide receiver. It’s a very attractive possibility. If I was a decision maker, I’d lobby hard for it.
Las Vegas Chargers: No more Phillip Rivers, who was arguably the best quarterback to ever play for the Chargers. If by some crazy circumstance the Dolphins don’t draft Tua, at No. 6, it’s hard to imagine Las Vegas passing on him to fill the vacated position. Once more, to his benefit, he would be entering into a much better situation with an offense loaded with talent at key positions. Think of it. If Melvin Gordon decides to stay, he will also have the services Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. It would greatly resemble his former situation at Alabama, but upgraded. They could possibly set the NFL ablaze with offense. Former NFL head coach Rex Ryan sees the great value of drafting Tua at this spot and it’s something he greatly wants. “I hope he lands with the LA Chargers. And the reason I say that is because my son is a coach on that staff. He wants Tua. I want him there because my kid’s there. And I know if he’s there, they’re going to win,” Ryan said.
Detroit (No. 3 overall pick) and Miami (No. 5) are the co-favorites (-110) to land Tua Tagovailoa, according to Caesars Sportsbook. They are followed by the Chargers (5-2), Bengals (7-1), Panthers (7-1) and Jaguars (9-1).https://t.co/f1ZUZ5mKcA— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 18, 2020
Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford went down last season with a back injury and never returned. Apparently, for the Lions, neither did wins. They were 0-8 for the remainder of their schedule. There are glaring needs on the defense that players such as Jeff Okudah, Derrick Brown, and Isaiah Simmons could potentially fill. However, without a serviceable quarterback, it’s hard to win games. How long does Stafford have left in his NFL career and does the talk of possibly shopping him hold any water? He’d have a high price tag, but more and more speculation continues to the surface. As a matter of fact, draft analyst Mel Kiper is now believing it’s a certainty. “The Lions say they’re not shopping quarterback Matthew Stafford, but there is some buzz that they like Tagovailoa, who might not work out for teams before April’s draft because of his hip injury. Is that just a smoke screen? We’re still two months away from the draft, of course. Stafford’s contract is extremely tough to trade in 2020 — the team could have up to a $32 million dead-cap hit — but what if Detroit likes Tagovailoa so much that it keeps Stafford on the roster for another year?” Kiper said. So, if Detroit doesn’t oust Matthew Stafford, they can keep their franchise quarterback, but also utilize him in a mentor role, grooming Tagovailoa to one day take the baton. So, he wouldn’t be thrown into the fire right away and has the opportunity to learn from an accomplished veteran. Plus, should Stafford get hurt again, Tua could serve as a great insurance policy. Those are great points. Along with that, the idea of possibly reuniting him with potentially surging star running back Bo Scarbrough is very appealing to me as an Alabama fan.
Carolina Panthers: Should the ongoing question of “Will Cam stay or will he go” be answered, the Carolina Panthers could be looking to fill a void at the No. 7 spot. It’s a stretch for Tua to drop this far, but if Cam Newton does exit, it would be ridiculous for the franchise to look past him. While Kyle Allen was serviceable last season in Newton’s absence, neither he nor 2nd year quarterback Will Grier possess the tremendous upside of Tagovailoa. Now with newly elected offensive coordinator Joe Brady calling the shots, the Panthers would be salivating as they made him their selection. Imagine what Brady could do with Tua Tagovailoa and Christian McCaffrey. Plus, from a leadership standpoint, Carolina would be making an astronomical improvement.
Longshot but Could Be Possible
New Orleans Saints: Sitting at No. 24, you have to be thinking that there is no possible way that Tua Tagovailoa drops out of the top 10, let alone all the way to this spot. I get it. Everyone is on “cloud 9” ever since the miraculous healing was announced. It seems as though everything has returned to normal. Has it? There’s a lot of time between now and the NFL Draft. What if Tua isn’t 100% crisp in his evaluations? What if doubts about his injury begin to resurface? It is a strong possibility. Let’s face it. When it comes to scouting and decision making, those with selecting power are very fickle. If that holds true, it could play perfectly into the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees has committed to one more season, but any return beyond that point becomes less likely. The Saints desperately need to satisfy the need for an heir at that position. There’s a small argument for Teddy Bridgewater that could be argued. The same could even be said of “do-everything” backup Taysom Hill. However, is the Saints organization truly sold that either candidate is the long term answer? I tend to think not. So, draft Tua and allow him to ease into the starting role at the proper time. Meanwhile, he will be under the tutelage of the legend who he is so often compared to. When Drew Brees does decide to depart, the dynamic doesn’t change and Tua blazes out of the driveway. In addition, he has the incredible luxury of Pro Bowl playmakers Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. It’s similar to the Chargers situation, but much better. If this does transpire, what a huge acquisition it would be for New Orleans.
Tennessee Titans: A few spots down at No. 29 resides the Tennessee Titans. To piggyback off my above theory, the same could happen for the Titans. After the benching of Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill took over in a tremendous way. It seemed as though life was breathed into his lungs. He performed at a level that no one saw coming. Suddenly, the offense became multidimensional and opened things up for the Titans. Most importantly, he was able to take the pressure off Derrick Henry, thus allowing him to do more. It catapulted Tennessee into an unlikely playoff run that saw them fall short of the Super Bowl by just one game. While Tannehill did good things, he didn’t quite possess that elite component needed to reach and perhaps win a championship. Tua Tagovailoa does possess that ability. He can be that dude. Partner him with Corey Davis and rookie sensation A. J. Brown, the offense becomes lethal. Then add in the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry. The offense resembles something out of Asgard. Just like the Saints, should Tua make it to them, it’s an astronomical acquisition.
Let all of that digest. Some projections are very likely. Others may seem to be quite a stretch. Each theory laid out has compelling and believable points. However, should any of them pan out, the possibilities will be endless. It certainly will be fun to watch. The journey of Tua Tagovailoa continues. He’s deserving of any success he achieves. I can’t wait to see where the next chapter takes him. The rest of the Alabama nation, his future organization, and myself are eagerly awaiting to push the “add to cart” button to purchasing his jersey. Who will it be with? We shall soon see. One can only hope that the ultimate destination reached will be the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I am a 2003 graduate from the University of Alabama with a degree in Exercise Science. While at the Capstone, I served as a student assistant with the head strength and conditioning coach of the Crimson Tide football team. I have competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding for several years. In addition, I have served athletes and people through the arena of personal training. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I am a passionate fan of Alabama, but do not make other fan bases miserable because of it. College football has my heart first, but I cover all areas of sports. Follow me on Twitter: @justinriley7!