NFL

Reports on Tua Tagovailoa Add to NFL Draft Drama

Pick the correct answer to how an unidentified source within the NFL feels about Tua Tagovailoa: (a) He hates the University of Alabama quarterback; (b) He really hates  him; (c) He really, really wants the kid’s stock to drop in the NFL draft; (d) All of the above.

Someone leaked a bunch of scores from the Wonderlic Test administered to top draft prospects administered at the recent NFL Scouting Combine. Accidentally or otherwise, they appear to have gotten some of the numbers very wrong, raising questions about whether there was a motive.

Someone got Tua Tagovailoa’s score very wrong

The Wonderlic Test is a quiz created in 1937 to assess the intelligence and cognitive ability of job candidates. It became popular in the business world and was even picked up by the U.S. Navy. It was eventually adopted for use on prospects in the NFL draft.

On Friday, word leaked that Tua Tagovailoa’s score was just 13 out of 50 for the lowest among quarterbacks at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis shortly after the Super Bowl. The trouble is that the report was wrong; Tagovailoa’s score of 13 was from a test he took in 2018, and the Alabama star really recorded a 19 this winter.

That score puts Tagolvailoa within the margin of error for the average player score of 20. In addition, initial reports that fellow quarterback Justin Herbert’s score was 25 short-changed the Oregon standout by a whopping 14 points.

What does this mean heading into the NFL draft?

Testing data compiled at the NFL Scouting Combine is shared between the league office and the 32 teams, so that makes 33 suspects right off the bat in determining the source of the leak of Tua Tagovailoa’s score. There could certainly be others who’ve gotten their hands on the information, but team front-office employees are still most likely to blame.

As noted, however, all the teams receive the same data as they prepare for the NFL draft. That means they have all known from the start that Tagovailoa’s correct score was 19 instead of 13. So, two primary possibilities exist:

  • Someone wanted to damage Tagolvailoa’s potential endorsement opportunities. As one of the best-known college players in the country and someone with no known dirty laundry, Tagovailoa is in line to endorse everything from shoes to cars.
  • A team with a high pick in the first round and a need for a quarterback has come down with a sudden case of cold feet and thinks it needs an excuse to pass up a quarterback with great statistics but lingering injury concerns.

The Cincinnati Bengals are drafting first and by all accounts have been committed to picking LSU’s Joe Burrow. They can be ruled out in light of the fact that no one has come up with a significant reason to not take Burrow. The next candidates to take quarterbacks would be the Miami Dolphins at No. 5 and the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6 unless someone trades up in the first round.

Dolphins fans have been told in two months of mock drafts that they’re getting Tagovailoa. But does a team need an excuse to choose someone else? Perhaps, especially if that team has its heart set on Justin Herbert of Oregon or Jordan Love of Utah State instead. Both are consistently rated as first-round quarterbacks in the NFL draft, but there is a significant gap between them and Tagovailoa according to some evaluations.

More on the test scores

Realistically, it’s hard to believe that a team would stoop to embarrassing a draft prospect unnecessarily by leaking incorrect info. If nothing else, they would have had to expect that the player’s agent or even the league would have gone on record to correct the information for the sake of the player.

But it does give fans something to talk about in the final days leading up to Thursday’s first round.

Courtesy of several sources reporting on the NFL, here are the Wonderlic scores for notable quarterbacks ahead of the NFL draft:

  • Justin Herbert, Oregon, 39
  • Jake Fromm, Georgia, 35
  • Jue Burrow, LSU, 34
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State, 33
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State, 30
  • Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, 21
  • Jordan Love, Utah State, 27
  • Anthony Gordon, Washington State, 25
  • Jacob Eason, Washington, 23
  • James Morgan, Florida International, 23
  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, 19