Since the end of the 2019 season, the focus around the Alabama Crimson Tide has been the long-term future of junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. There was a pending decision overhead of the school with no real indication of which direction that Tagovailoa is leaning in heading into his press conference on Monday morning. With that in mind, he has cemented what his plans are for his status for the 2020 NFL draft.
Tua Tagovailoa makes his decision
It was a rocky experience for Tagovailoa in his junior campaign that was hampered by yet another injury. That had ended his campaign prematurely, putting him out of action for the last month of the season.
That created some uncertainty around what Tagovailoa planned to do for his senior year. The 21-year-old made his long-awaited decision on Monday voicing that he will forgo his senior status to enter this year’s draft. The decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise given that this may be the highest his stock could be, while injuries have impacted his collegiate career over the last couple of years.
As for the Crimson Tide, the school will move forward with a competition for the starting job next season with redshirt sophomore Mac Jones likely getting an early leg up for the position. Jones played well in place of Tagovailoa towards the end of the season that saw him record at least three touchdowns four times in the last five games of the season.
He had a strong outing in the Citrus Bowl 35-16 win over the Michigan Wolverines, notching 327 passing yards with three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Tagovailoa’s younger brother, Taulia, along with fellow redshirt freshman Paul Tyson, could potentially compete for the starting job. Alabama also inked five-star quarterback Bryce Young for next year’s incoming class.
Where will he land in the 2020 NFL Draft?
A large portion of Tagovailoa’s decision hinged on where he’s ranked among other quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. He is expected to be a high first-round pick with several teams potentially looking for potentially their next face of the franchise.
There will be teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers among others. Each of these teams could be in play to select Tagovailoa as he’s currently projected to fall within the first 15 picks in the draft.
Plenty of factors will impact his trajection, primarily his recovery from hip surgery along with other quarterbacks such as Joe Borrow and Justin Herbert, who will be in that top-tier conversation over the next few months. There will be much scrutiny on Tagovailoa that is going to stem mainly from his medical status that is drawing some concern.
Concerns around Tua Tagovailoa
Over the next several months, teams will be doing their due diligence on potential draft picks, with Tagovailoa’s name being near the top of the list. He entered the 2019 season as the projected to be the first quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL draft while being regarded as a cemented top-five pick.
However, his status has taken a bit of a hit beyond the emergence of players like Borrow and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. The bulk of the concerns regarding his health as he’s recovering from a third operation while he has dealt with several injuries over the years.
Tagovailoa missed some time over the last two seasons due to a sprained knee, a quad injury, and a pair of ankle ailments that required surgery in each instance. It’s on top of the hip surgery that he’s working his way back onto the field.
These are questions that he will face from teams holding concerns about his durability, as whichever team drafts him will do so with the hopes that he can become their franchise cornerstone at the position for the decade-plus. The next few months will be quite revealing about what teams honestly think of Tagovailoa’s NFL future.