Cream City Central 2020 NFL Prospects: Tua Tagovailoa


Our next prospect is Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.  At the beginning of the year, Tua secured himself as a top 5 pick.  After his hip injury, several experts believed it to be a serious one and it could hurt his draft stock.  He is still one of the most talented players in this draft, but how much will his injury hurt him?  




Up until his hip injury, Tua Tagovailoa secured himself as a top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.  Unlike Joe Burrow, Tua has three years of consistent tape and has several traits today’s scouts look for in an NFL quarterback.  

One thing that stands out for Tua is that he is very poised and confident when under pressure.  His mobility is what separates him from guys like Burrow. The way he reads multiple receivers on the same play is what is really impressive.  This allows him to extend big plays down the field. In addition, Tua’s mobility allows him to adapt nicely and stay patient in the pocket.  

Tua also has a cannon of an arm and his accuracy has improved every year.  In 2018, he threw for 43 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. In 2019 up until his injury, he threw for 33 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.  The numbers can certainly speak for themselves and it shows just the type of player that Tua is. His ability to read defenses before the snap is something every NFL scout should look for in a quarterback.  

Tua also knows what it is like to be a leader on a winning team.  If a team is looking for a quarterback to be their next successor, one of their main responsibilities is whether or not they can actually lead a team and set by example.  Playing under Nick Saban and Alabama for three years, Tua has the leadership experience in arguably the best conference in college football. Many teams will look for that to hopefully transition into the NFL.  


The first thing that jumps off the page is Tua’s leadership. He’s a winner and guys want to play for him. This was shown by the way he and Alabama turned the tide in the 2nd half of the 2018 National Championship game. Tua has a solid feel for the game and shows good pocket awareness. Tua also has experience in big moments. He’s been in the spotlight since he took over for Jalen Hurts. He won’t be fazed by the bright lights of the NFL. 

Tua’s biggest strength is his ability to follow and execute the game plan. He won’t go out there and lose you games by being a gunslinger. He’s going to make smart reads and put the ball on target to his playmakers. Tua is very accurate and has adequate arm strength. He also has the ability to extend plays when he needs to. He’s by no means a running quarterback, however he’s more than capable of evading a rusher and making an off-script play.  


From what we saw in the 2018 National Championship game, Tagovailoa is a guy that has poise, a solid pocket presence, and the ability to evade defenders. I see a guy who has the ability to throw a beautiful deep ball, one with great accuracy. Tua is a solid NFL Prospect. One thing that separates him from the competition is the fact that he is a clutch football player. Not many guys receive such an accolade but after his performance at the end of last season, how can you not look at this guy and think that he can make an immediate impact on an NFL team? Tua separates himself from LSU Quarterback Joe Burrow from the fact that he does have that natural, clutch gene. 

Tua is a tough guy that isn’t afraid to extend plays. Having a combination of clutchness, toughness, and the ability to move outside of the pocket screams deadly. I don’t think he is as fast as Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson were. I do see a guy that has the ability to really move, sort of like an Aaron Rodgers or Marcus Mariota.  


When someone brings up Tua Tagovailoa, you think of a winner, competitor, leader and a heck of a player. Tagovailoa will draw interest from a lot of teams, even after his hip injury. It’s hard to pass up a guy with elite talent Tagovailoa brings. Tagovailoa is fairly accurate as a passer with a 71.4 completion percentage this year. The short and intermediate passes are almost automatic where he barely misses his target. The fundamentals come easy for the Alabama quarterback as the throwing motion is smooth and quick, but footwork could become sloppy here and there.

What Tagovailoa does well is sensing the pressure. The pocket awareness is probably the best among all the quarterbacks in the draft. It’s hard to find a quarterback at a young age that has no problem sliding around the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Tua will take off a couple of times when he needs to, but he’s a true pocket passer. Tagovailoa also makes the smart read, where he won’t stare down one receiver. If the first read isn’t there, Tagovailoa will move quickly to the next.


Too much can be said about the strengths of Tua Tagovailoa. Since day one when he led Alabama to a comeback overtime win against Georgia in the 2018 National Championship Game, he’s been special skill and talent wise. His accuracy at every level of the field is as outstanding as you’re going to see as he consistently completes NFL throws where only the receiver can catch it. He hits receivers perfectly in-stride from any field level, and his deep-throw accuracy is insane. No one has completed more perfectly deep-passes than Tua, and that alone makes NFL scouts froth at the mouth. 

To raise his stock even more, Tua is true dual-threat quarterback who can consistently extend plays, evade rushers, and is solid throwing on the run. When met with pressure he doesn’t fold or allow his throw to be hindered. As a decision maker, his 43:6 TD:INT in 2018 and his 33:3 TD:INT ratios speaks for itself. He also has displayed a high-capability of reading blitzes and making necessary adjustments. On skill and experience alone,  Tua is the most NFL-ready quarterback. He’s an instant starter and roty candidate for any team that drafts him, barring any setbacks in his rehab.  




The main weakness that will hurt Tua’s draft stock is his hip injury he suffered against Mississippi State.  Some doctors thought the injury was going to be career-ending, which is a huge red flag. However, there were reports saying that Tua should be ready to start throwing in 6 weeks and that his surgery went well.  This injury might still come back to bite him in the NFL. Tua’s hip injury could cause him to lose mobility and his ability to throw passes deep down the field.  

Another thing to point out is that Tua played for Alabama, a team that is always loaded with unspeakable talent.  He has had guys like Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs to throw to for the majority of his college career. As of the draft order right now, some of the teams in the first half that need a quarterback like the Bengals, Dolphins and Buccaneers do not have a whole lot to work with.  Tua will need to convince scouts that he does not need an elite team around him to be good.  

Lastly, Tua is a left-handed quarterback.  The last left-handed quarterbacks of our generation were Michael Vick and Tim Tebow.  You do not see many left-handed quarterbacks anymore because of the lack of production for the exception of Michael Vick, who was one of the best left-handed quarterbacks in NFL history.  Tim Tebow had one good season then started to regress. Will Tua break this trend? He has the talent to do so and hopefully he can make scouts overlook this.  


Tua’s biggest weakness is his health. The biggest question mark is this new hip injury. However, it’s not easy to overlook the ankle injuries and surgeries he’s had at Alabama as well. The talent is there and undeniable, but it’s tough to justify using a premium pick on a player who has yet to show he has the best quarterback ability of availability. 

Tua doesn’t have the strongest arm in this class. He also doesn’t possess speed and playmaking ability with his feet like Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson. This doesn’t mean he can’t be as effective as them, however NFL teams are showing a desire to have a mobile quarterback. 


Tua’s glaring weakness is his hip injury.  No matter if it’s a professional sports medicine doc or an ESPN commentator, nobody knows how this injury will impact Tua’s future performance or draft stock. The only thing that is certain is that time will tell. Tua will have to make a full recovery, which obviously will include learning how to use his hip again and throwing the football accurately. There is a lot more that goes into throwing a football that just the motion of an arm. It is the shifting of the weight from the back foot to the forward foot, and Tua is going to have to build his fundamentals from the ground up. 

I worry that Tua’s hip injury will cap his ability to throw the deep ball in the NFL. He is a guy that can run the ball, but I wouldn’t say that he is a run-first quarterback. This injury is something to watch for going forward.  


Well, first we need to talk about the hip injury Tagovailoa suffered against the Arkansas Razorbacks. He should be good to go for the NFL Combine, but suffering a potential career-ending injury with a dislocated hip (similar to Bo Jackson) isn’t easy to just come back from. The injury could also result in Tagovailoa not being as flexible in scrabbling around the pocket and taking off to run. 

While Tagovailoa succeeds in the short and intermediate, he tends to struggle to throw the deep ball. The arm strength is good, but the accuracy is the problem. Most of the deep balls thrown are either too far outside or overthrown. Also,Tagovailoa tends to get greedy and holds onto the ball for too long looking for the big play, which sometimes results in a sack. Tagovailoa takes too many hits and that needs to change in the NFL, especially in the NFL, if he wants to have a long career. 


Tua has two major red flags with the first obvious one being the dislocated hip he suffered against Mississippi State. According to all reports, he’s doing very well post surgery and rehab but a hip injury like that is brutal to an athlete. For quarterbacks that could be double, since the position requires so much movement of the hip and falling on the hip when drilled by a defender. As someone who is known for his tremendous pocket mobility and deep-throw accuracy, it’ll be a difficult rehab ahead for Tua. 

The other red-flag is the team he had around him and his lacking performances against elite teams. Alabama always has the strongest o-line, defense and run game in college football but they also had two of the most talented receivers. Some of that was due to him but he had a tremendous luxury of having the best of the best around him and he won’t have that in the NFL, especially if he’s going to Miami or Denver.  


Draft Projection: After his hip injury, how much will it hurt Tua’s draft stock?  


Tua’s hip injury will certainly come back to bite him, but I do not see him dropping past the top 15.  He is still one of the most talented prospects in this draft. This injury might also cause some teams to trade up, some of which who have a veteran quarterback on his way out.  This would give Tua more time to heal from his hip injury.   


Tank for Tua was the biggest phrase we heard going into this season. However, with his hip injury and the meteoric rise of Joe Burrow he now isn’t even the hottest quarterback prospect there is. Tua still has all of the talent to be a top-10 pick, but teams may avoid the risk and wait to take him later in the first round. Tua should definitely hear his name called Day 1, but who knows when in the night. 


Tua Tagovailoa is going to be an interesting prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft because of that hip injury. Some teams are going to be hesitant on that hip, but there’s a team that could trust him. Tagovailoa is going to be a top 10-15 pick depending on the order and if any issues come up with his injury. 

I think a team could trade up for him and a perfect candidate is the Los Angeles Chargers. Father time is catching up to Philip Rivers and they need a successor for him. Tagovailoa puts pressure on Rivers where head coach Anthony Lynn could give a short leash. If Rivers plays to expectations, you let Tagovailoa learn and take care of his hip. 


Despite the hip injury, I still believe Tua is the best QB prospect in this year’s draft and he’s only second to Chase Young as far as prospects.. The injury is a huge red flag and it will lower him in the draft. I do think whatever team needs a QB after Joe Burrow’s gone, will take him. Miami has three first-rounders, so they might wait to grab their QB with their second pick. That makes the next potential teams the Broncos, the Chargers, or the Jaguars. This still makes Tua a top-ten pick, more so because of the need of a franchise QB for those teams, but that’s exactly why Burrow is likely going number one. Whichever of those three teams has the higher pick will select Tua.



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