Could Tua Really Fall Out of the Top 10?

Rumors of the QB slipping in the draft are just absurd

You know the draft is right around the corner when rumors start flying. The latest one however, is just too crazy. Reports are being released that teams are weary of drafting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the top ten. It’s also being reported that some teams view Tua as the fourth best quarterback in this class. I find this truly hard to comprehend. Sure there is some concern with Tagovailoa, but whenever I come across a mock draft that doesn’t have him in the top ten, I stop reading. This idea that he will make it past the sixth pick is foolish.

Let’s say you’re the general manager of a quarterback needy team (Dolphins/Chargers), and you have the choice of three QBs (assuming Joe Burrow is already a Cincinnati Bengal). Are you really going to select Justin Herbert or Jordan Love ahead of Tagovailoa?

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Will the Dolphins or Chargers actually pass on Tagovailoa?

Just look at the stats. Last year Jordan Love completed 61.9% of his throws for 3402 yards, to go with 20 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. While it was a down season for Love, even his best season (2018) doesn’t compare to Tua. In 2018, Love completed 64% of his passes for 3552 yards, to go with 32 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Tagovailoa had more touchdown passes than Love this past season, despite playing three fewer games, and having 165 fewer attempts.

When it comes to Herbert versus Tagovailoa, there is also little debate. Last season (which was arguably his best), Herbert completed 66.8% of his passes for 3471 yards, to go with 32 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. As with Jordan Love, Tua also had more passing touchdowns than Herbert this past season despite playing in five fewer games.

Now injuries are a concern for Tagovailoa. But when the QB is healthy, he is a superstar. In a 2018 campaign which saw Tua finish 2nd in the Heisman race, the QB completed 69% of his passes for 3966 yards, to go with 48 total touchdowns (five rushing) and just 6 interceptions. Even in a year where he was injured, Tua was still fantastic. This past season, Tagovailoa only played in nine games. Despite that, he still finished the season completing 71.4% of his passes for 2840, along with 35 total touchdowns (two rushing) and just 3 interceptions.

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Tua has performed much better than Herbert (right) and Love (left) throughout their careers

Injuries are a concern I get it. However, Carson Wentz who is also injury prone just signed an extension with the Philadelphia Eagles. Deshaun Watson who has dealt with his fair share of injuries will have the opportunity to sign a huge second contract (whether that’s with the Texans is a discussion for another day). The point being, that those two QB’s I just mentioned have had injuries in both college and the pros, yet their respective teams still feel comfortable extending them. I believe this would be the case for Tagovailoa as well.

Another argument people use against Tua is the talent he had around him at Alabama. People say that Alabama’s receivers are the best group in the country, and helped make Tagovailoa so special. Yes, Tua had better weapons in college than Justin Herbert or Jordan Love, but I never hear this argument when it comes to the presumptive top pick Joe Burrow. This past season, Burrow’s two top receivers at LSU both had over 1500 yards. Ja’Marr Chase led the team with 1780 receiving yards, and Justin Jefferson was second with 1540 receiving yards. Alabama’s leading receiver (Devonta Smith) had 1256 receiving yards, followed by Jerry Jeudy who had 1163 receiving yards. You may be wondering where Crimson Tide speedster Henry Ruggs fits in with this. Many project Ruggs to be a top-20 pick, even though he hasn’t had more than 800 receiving yards in a season. So this idea that Tua is only so good because of his receivers needs to stop. He is not the only quarterback with talented receivers, yet he’s the only QB I hear this argument used against.

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Injury is main concern when it comes to Tagovailoa

Any team with the opportunity to draft Tagovailoa should. He’s a deadly accurate thrower (completed 69% and 71.4% of his passes the past two years respectively), he has the highest passing yards per attempt in NCAA history (10.9), and he also has the highest passer efficiency rating in NCAA history (199.4).

But most of all, Tagovailoa is a winner.

In his three years at Alabama, Tagovailoa only lost two games, both to the eventual national champions. This past season, Alabama lost to LSU 46–41 despite Tua putting on a stellar performance. In that game, Tagovailoa had 418 yards, and 4 touchdowns along with 1 interception. Kind of hard to blame that one on Tua. The only other loss of his career came against Clemson in the 2019 National Championship game. Tagovailoa’s Crimson Tide were overmatched losing the game 44–16. In the game, Tua didn’t perform to his high expectations. He finished the game with 295 yards, along with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. This is really the only game in his career that you can say Tagovailoa didn’t perform well.

Despite the two losses however, Tua is still a national champion. His freshman season, he was inserted into the game at halftime, and led the Crimson Tide to a comeback win over Georgia in the National Championship game. He threw for three touchdowns, and showed then and there, he was special.

So forgive me for brushing off the rumors of Tua Tagovailoa not being a top ten pick. Even with injury concerns, teams would be foolish to pass on a generational talent like Tua. But I guess we’ll see come April 23rd.

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University at Buffalo ’20 | BA in Communication | Writer for The Sports Scientist

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