All eyes will be watching to see where Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is taken in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. With Tagovailoa, it's not a question of ability or skill, it's that he's coming back from a serious hip injury that limited him to nine games this past season. Will durability concerns and a resume that includes just 24 games as a starter (did go 22-2 in those) cause teams to pass on Tagovailoa for another quarterback or will the 2018 Heisman Trophy runner-up hear his name called early in the first round?
Here's a look at what teams are considering when evaluating Tagovailoa.
Tua Tagovailoa Draft Profile
The accuracy, instincts and athleticism have always been there for Tagovailoa. He has the requisite arm strength and outstanding accuracy at all levels. He has quick feet, quiet mechanics and a natural feel for maneuvering within the pocket. When he moves out of the pocket, his flexibility and overall athleticism allow him to make off-platform throws with relative ease, making him a threat on second-reaction plays. His ball placement is excellent; he shows an excellent feel for delivering the ball out of danger downfield. He’s enough of a threat with his legs to make plays scrambling or be a part of the occasional read-option call in the run game.
Durability is an issue after last year’s hip injury and an ankle injury in 2018, especially since Tagovailoa’s movement skills are one of his strengths and are particularly important for a short quarterback. Less-than-ideal size becomes more of an issue in the NFL, where the pocket becomes more condensed, and if he’s forced to move outside the pocket, more often than not it compromises ideal play designs. He was sometimes sluggish moving through reads when defenses disguised coverages at the collegiate level, something he’ll see much more of at the next level. Some teams will also worry about the fact that he was supported by an NFL-caliber supporting cast in college, making his life much easier.
While it’s not a guarantee, it’s reasonable to expect Tagovailoa to continue to sharpen his mental processing over his first couple NFL seasons. As long as the hip returns to health, he has a “quality starter” floor and — if he masters the subtleties of moving within a tighter pocket — true franchise quarterback ceiling.
Final Grade: 1st round