Rookie Rundown: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Rookie Rundown: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

NFL Draft

Rookie Rundown: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

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This Alabama product is the highest risk/reward pick in the NFL draft. He was a lock to be a top drafted player after leading the Crimson Tide to two National Championships. He was likely to be the No. 1 overall pick (and could still be). As a freshman, he was a backup to Jalen Hurts but then was called up at halftime of the National Championship when Hurts had been ineffective and they trailed the Georgia Bulldogs 0-13. Tagovailoa rallied the team for a 26-23 win and Hurts ended up transferring out since they were Tagovailoa’s team from that day onwards.

As a sophomore, he threw for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns while only tossing six interceptions. He added five scores as a runner. The Crimson Tide went on to their second championship game but lost to Clemson. Tagovailoa ended second to Kyler Murray for the Heisman but did win the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Award for the best college player.

As a junior, he was on another torrid pace that would have resulted in around 4,700 passing yards and over 50 touchdowns until the Mississippi State matchup on November 16 when he left the game after a sack drove his knee into the ground causing his hip to dislocate and fracture. He also suffered a broken nose and concussion on the play. He underwent surgery two days later.

Height: 6-0
Weight: 217 pounds
40 time: 4.9 seconds

Tagovailoa opted to forgo his senior season and enter the  NFL draft. He attended the NFL Combine but did no drills since he was not yet medically cleared to participate. He was due to have a Pro Day in April but that was canceled due to the Corona Virus pandemic.

Tagovailoa’s dislocated hip and fractured Posterior Wall was originally expected to heal up and allow him to begin physical training after three months. He met that time frame by early March and has resumed throwing the ball. He’s undergone a physical exam and by all accounts is back to form though he did not work out at the NFL Combine.

Year Games Runs Yards TD Pass Complete Yards Avg. TD Int QBR
2017 8 27 133 2 77 49 636 9.9 11 2 175.0
2018 15 15 57 5 355 245 3966 12.8 43 6 199.4
2019 9 23 17 2 252 180 2840 11.3 33 3 206.9

Pros

  • Right-handed but was trained to throw with his left
  • Excelled against the best opponents in college football
  • Highly accurate
  • Outstanding decision making through reads
  • Great anticipation when throwing
  • Tremendous touch on deep throws to fast receivers
  • Can move the sticks with legs when needed
  • Winner mentality with success  at every level
  • Good pocket awareness and takes few sacks

Cons

  • Arm strength is good but not elite
  • Obvious injury concerns
  • Played mostly from the shotgun formation at Alabama
  • Occasional batted balls since only six feet tall
  • Ball security could be an issue since he carries the ball with one hand

Fantasy outlook

Tagovailoa will carry the caveat – “as long as he is healthy”, at least for the first season. He was durable for his career until that fateful game against Mississippi State last November. But he’s never been anything short of a superstar. In high school, he rolled up 8,158 passing yards and 84 touchdowns and added 3,952 yards as a rusher. He received offers from most colleges before committing to Alabama. In college, he won a National Championship as a freshman coming off the bench and returned the next year as a starter.

He’ll ideally end up in a West Coast offense where his accuracy and decision making will be optimized and any arm limitations (few as they are) won’t be a problem. Though make no mistake, he played with speedsters Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. Their success with Tagovailoa should cause them both to be in the first few wideouts taken in the NFL draft. He can hit a streaking target in stride.

This is a season with much transition for NFL quarterbacks. That means that Tagovailoa could go to a number of different teams if they are willing to trade up into the top ten (or likely top five) picks. He could end up with the Bengals if they skip Joe Burrows with the first overall pick. Most analysts believe he will end up with the Miami Dolphins at the No. 5 slot though the Chargers at No. 6 could make a move.

Where ever he ends up, he’ll provide a proven winner that possesses every desirable quality for a franchise quarterback … as long as he is healthy.

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