Prospects fall every year whether due to injury or off-the-field issues like viral videos. We saw Laremy Tunsil’s draft stock plummet hard in 2016 when a video surfaced with him in a gas mask taking bong hits. That same year, we also saw Jaylon Smith drop to the Cowboys in the 2nd round of the draft after suffering a devastating knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl. Smith was widely considered not only the top prospect at his position but one of the top prospects in the 2016 draft.
We are going into the 2020 draft with several uncertainties. Given our circumstances, we are mostly praying that all of us are able to experience football in the fall. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some players were unable to complete their Pro Days and medical check ups. The player that a lot of us were hoping to receive more assurance on was Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa had suffered a dislocated hip and posterior wall fracture against Mississippi State on Nov. 16, 2019. His injury stunned and saddened so many fans that had aspirations of Alabama winning a National Title as well as Tagovailoa being the potential top pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
Even though Tagovailoa had received immediate treatment and has recently posted workout videos, there is still speculation around his medical evaluations. There have been multiple teams and draft analysts that have more or less taken Tagovailoa off their boards.
With Joe Burrow widely perceived as the consensus number one pick to the Bengals, and most evaluators generally excited about the potential of Justin Herbert and Jordan Love, Tagovailoa is somewhat left out of the mix. With other options on the table, QB needy teams such as the Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers might pass on Tagovailoa and choose the “safer” option. That would lead to a draft day slide similar to that of Aaron Rodgers.
Although Rodgers did not drop in the 2005 draft due to injury, it is quite possible to see a similar slide. Rodgers was a potential number one overall pick, yet the 49ers chose Alex Smith instead. Many evaluators attributed Rodgers’ collegiate success as being a “system QB”, and thus we saw him drop all the way down to 24th overall to the Packers. Tagovailoa has the potential for just such a drop, perhaps 20 or more slots.
Tagovailoa is still worth the risk of a first round pick in this evaluator’s opinion (20-32 range), although I think the best scenario for him would be to land on a team with a well established veteran QB who is approaching the end of his career (Brady, Brees, Rivers or Roethisberger). The prudent course of action would be not to rush Tagovailoa into playing in the NFL, and maybe for him to take a “red-shirt” year. I can’t imagine a better situation for a young QB fresh back from injury than to sit behind a future Hall of Famer.
Tua’s injuries should not be taken lightly. We witnessed the career of the most amazing athlete of the 80’s in Bo Jackson take a huge plunge after he suffered a similar injury. Medicine has come a long way in 30 years, and we can only hope and pray that Tua Tagovailoa’s injury has fully healed. One thing is for certain, there will be a team that takes a chance on Tua whether in the top 5 or top 50. We will see him in an NFL uniform and we will see football played here soon.
Let’s stay positive and hope for the best for Tagovailoa and our entire global situation. Stay safe, healthy, and practice social distancing for the time being. God Bless. Make sure you follow Jimmy on Twitter for more 2020 NFL Draft Analysis.