Tua Tagovailoa feels assured his injured hip will probably be again to full energy in 2020. He proved as a lot by declaring for the NFL Draft.
The Alabama quarterback, a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2018 and a primary candidate final fall earlier than a dislocated hip ended his season after 9 video games, formally ended his school profession at a press convention in Tuscaloosa. That cleared up any uncertainty about his quick NFL future — and gave the Dolphins an apparent subsequent step of their ongoing rebuild.
Miami’s five-win season might have exceeded expectations (and ruined the Patriots’ championship hopes), however the Dolphins’ tanking plan might not have been completely derailed by fleeting moments of overachievement. Joe Burrow’s ascension to the presumptive prime spot after a breakthrough at LSU means Tagovailoa — whose latest medical check-up saw him healing nicely — might be out there when Miami makes the fifth general choice on this 12 months’s draft.
That could be a boon for the Dolphins, and the remainder of the league may benefit as properly.
What can Tagovailoa convey to Miami?
The Hawaiian could be the solar round which head coach Brian Flores’ photo voltaic system revolves. He’d be a right away focus for the Miami offense, although Ryan Fitzpatrick’s presence (he’s below contract for an inexpensive $eight million subsequent season) would permit him further time to regulate to the NFL — and get his dangerous hip again to 100 p.c —with out having to begin immediately.
He’d be the Dolphins’ newest try at a homegrown franchise quarterback, one thing the group’s lacked since Dan Marino retired. Since 2001, Miami has drafted passers like John Beck, Chad Henne, Pat White, and Ryan Tannehill. None of these gamers would go on to begin a playoff sport for the membership, although Tannehill was the impetus behind 2016’s 10-6 season earlier than struggling an ACL tear late in the season.
Tagovailoa might change all that. In three seasons and 32 video games with the Tide (together with 24 begins), he received a nationwide championship, performed in one other NCAA title sport, and compiled a stellar 87:11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He threw for at the very least three touchdowns in additional than half his school video games. While a few of that success might be attributed to a receiving corps loaded with first-round expertise — a few of which might be focused by the Dolphins this spring later in the draft — it’s clear he has the arm energy, accuracy, and decision-making skill to rework an offense.
He’d be the newest younger star in Miami’s scraggly constellation. DeVante Parker has been a revelation now that he’s been free of former coach Adam Gase’s affect; his 802 receiving yards in the closing eight weeks of the season had been second solely to Michael Thomas. Mike Gesicki has come on sturdy as a pass-catching tight finish. A mixture of draft picks and wage cap area might fill in the large gaps round them (particularly at tailback, since the 37-year-old Fitzpatrick was the group’s main rusher in 2019).
Would Tagovailoa be out there when the Dolphins make their first alternative? Barring any main trades, it looks like a strong wager. Here’s how the prime 5 shakes out by way of quarterback want in 2020:
1. Bengals. Do they want a QB? Yes, and they will select between Heisman winner Joe Burrow, Tagovailoa, or every other prospect who might rise by the pre-draft course of.
2. Washington. Do they want a QB? No. They drafted Dwayne Haskins with the 15th general choose in 2019.
3. Lions. Do they want a QB? Not actually. Matthew Stafford will solely be 32 years outdated subsequent month and was having the greatest season of his profession earlier than a again damage lower it brief.
4. Giants. Do they want a QB? No. They drafted Daniel Jones with the sixth general choose in 2019.
5. Dolphins. Do they want a QB? Yes, and they’d be joyful to draft whomever the Bengals don’t.
But even when one other group threatens to leap the line, Miami has the belongings to maneuver up the draft board. Trading away younger expertise in Minkah Fitzpatrick, Laremy Tunsil, and Kenny Stills web the Dolphins a pair of additional first-round picks this spring. If the Dolphins have their hearts set on including Tagovailoa, they’ll nearly definitely be capable of.
What does Tagovailoa’s declaration imply for the remainder of the NFL?
While the Dolphins, as a quarterback-hungry group drafting in the prime 5, stand to profit most from Tagovailoa’s decision, his entry is a rising tide for needy groups throughout the league.
The Chargers, making their choice one spot after Miami, might choose the draft’s third quarterback in the event that they resolve they should discover Philip Rivers’ alternative, or they may luck into no matter place participant the Dolphins go up by drafting Tagovailoa.
Colts common supervisor Chris Ballard has already stated quarterback will probably be one in every of his group’s essential focuses this offseason following Jacoby Brissett’s regarding decline to complete up the 2019 season. He might now find himself able to draft a franchise passer in the Justin Herbert/Jacob Eason/Jordan Love mold when Indianapolis known as to make the 13th choose.
The Lions, who maintain the draft’s first actual wild card after possible slam dunk picks at No. 1 (Burrow) and No. 2 (Ohio State wrecking ball go rusher Chase Young), will be capable of ask for a much bigger return in a possible commerce down now that Tagovailoa’s in the combine.
It’s dangerous information for what stands to be a banner crop of proficient, however flawed free-agent quarterbacks, nevertheless. Passers like Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill, Drew Brees, Rivers, and even Tom Brady are all set to see their contracts expire this offseason. Other starters like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton might be part of them.
Tagovailoa presents a high-upside possibility in a league with solely 32 beginning jobs. He’ll even be dust low cost over the course of his rookie-scale contract. Would you somewhat wager on Tua’s potential for 4 years and roughly $30 million (with a group possibility for a fifth), or signal somebody like Winston for 2 years at the similar worth (utilizing Brissett’s latest contract extension as a template)?
Tagovailoa’s decision to dive into the draft waters is nice information for the Dolphins, excellent news for the NFL, and one other impediment for the league’s veteran quarterbacks on the lookout for yet another shot at a beginning job. He may be the mild at the finish of Miami’s tunnel; so long as he’s wholesome, he’s tailored for the franchise QB-shaped gap in the center of the group’s basis.
His announcement suggests he’s on monitor for a full restoration — and whereas his departure is a tough blow for Alabama, Nick Saban’s loss is the NFL’s acquire.