The Miami Dolphins may have drafted the elite franchise quarterback that the team has been missing since Dan Marino retired in 1999.
With the fifth-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Miami selected former University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The Hawaii native was impressive in his three years at Alabama. As a freshman he backed up Jalen Hurts for the entirety of the 2017 season. Tagovailoa had only played in parts of some games during the year; that was until his spotlight moment arrived. During the 2017 CFP National Championship, Alabama was down 13-0 to the University of Georgia. At halftime, Alabama coach Nick Saban called upon Tagovailoa to finish the game. Tagovailoa went on to throw three touchdowns and win the National Championship.
Tagovailoa took on the starting job in his sophomore season at Alabama. Tua proved that he could consistently perform at a high level during the 2018 season. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind 2019 first-overall pick Kyler Murray, threw for nearly 4,000 yards and put up 43 touchdowns while only giving up six interceptions.
This past college football season, Tagovailoa was on pace to break his previous touchdown record of 43. In 9 games he threw for 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Tua’s season unfortunately came to an abrupt end in a game against Mississippi State. Tagovailoa was sacked and had dislocated his hip, fractured the posterior wall, broke his nose and received a concussion. Tua was done for the season, bringing his college football career to an end.
When Tua declared for the draft, the former consensus number one pick had a lot of questions regarding the health of his hip. Teams were taking extra precautions while looking at Tua, but with the Covid-19 pandemic putting an end to all sporting activities, pro days and team visits had been cancelled.
There was a debate on whether Miami would take Tua at five or opt to go with former Oregon QB Justin Herbert. With the clarity of Tua’s health up in the air, a lot of people were wondering if Miami would not take the chance on Tua and go with someone who had no recent injury history.
Miami had made the mistake of passing on Drew Brees in the 2001 NFL Draft because of injury concerns. Brees went on to become one of the greatest players in NFL history. Many see Tua as a left handed version of Brees. They are both undersized for the quarterback position, but they make up for it in the skill department. Dolphins GM Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores were not going to let a potential star QB slip from their grasp.
Tagovailoa could be what Dolphins fans have been waiting for. I believe Ryan Tannehill was a really good NFL quarterback, as he proved last year with the Tennessee Titans. A huge problem during the Tannehill era was the lack of a decent offensive line. Miami has been known to have one of the worst, if not the worst offensive line in pro football over the last decade. This new Dolphins front office staff seemed to realize the mistakes of their predecessors and immediately made moves to fortify the line. Three lineman were taken by the Dolphins in the 2020 draft, including two within the top 40 picks. The team also brought in guard Ereck Flowers during free agency to help protect the quarterback the team was going to select in the draft. When it is Tua’s time to play under centre, he will have a much better o-line than previous Dolphins quarterbacks.
I think Miami will start the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting QB. I like the idea of having Tua sit behind the veteran Fitzpatrick and learn from him for a season, or at least a good chunk of it. Two of the top young quarterbacks in the league, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson were both backups to begin their rookie seasons. Both players ended up winning the NFL MVP award in their second year in the league and Mahomes won a Super Bowl in year three. Another player who was a first round pick and sat out his rookie year was a man by the name of Aaron Rogers and now he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. I’m not saying that sitting Tua will automatically make him a superstar, but I am saying there is no need to rush him onto the field in week 1.
If he can stay healthy, Tua Tagovailoa has the potential to become the next great young QB in the league. Miami stocked up on a lot of positions they needed to take care of during the draft and free agency. In 2021 Miami has even more first and second round picks to help build a team that can compete in the now “Tom Bradyless” AFC East.
Tagovailoa proved he was one of the best college football players in the nation during his tenure with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Now it’s his time to prove his doubters wrong and become one of the best players in the National Football League.