NFL Draft 2020: The Tua Tagovailoa bashing has peaked

As the NFL Draft 2020 draws near, it’s open season for scouts and analysts, whose commentary about Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is starting to resemble pages from Regina George’s Burn Book from “Mean Girls.”

The Athletic’s Bob McGinn published some acerbic criticism of the All-American quarterback on Friday that he collected from NFL scouts.

“I’m playing the odds. I don’t want to put my whole franchise on a left-handed, beat-up, 6-foot quarterback. No thank you,” an AFC personnel man told the website of Tagovailoa.

“He’s a great college player but, wow, he is fragile,” another AFC personnel man said. “He’s a super kid and I don’t wish ill will, but there’s three, four or five red flags staring us all in the face saying, ‘You know what? This guy’s not going to be all that he’s cracked up to be.’”

“I don’t have a magical answer whether he’s going to stay healthy or not,” an AFC decision-maker said. “It is a concern. He’s had medical issues for much of his career.”

The 22-year-old has been fraught with injuries throughout his career at Alabama, the most concerning of which occurred on Nov. 16 against Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide signal-caller suffered a dislocated hip which required surgery and prematurely ended his season with 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 71.4 completion percentage through nine games.

This spate of Tagovailoa commentary comes in spite of “overwhelmingly positive reports” from medical staff at the NFL Combine, social media workouts and a virtual Pro Day, all of which have done little to temper the chatter and anxiety among members of the football community.

“It would be irresponsible to take him in the top 10,” former Jets executive Mike Tannenbaum told the South Florida Sun Sentinel last week.

“I think this is the biggest gamble in the history of the NFL Draft,” former Jets coach Rex Ryan said.

“It’s not just his hip,” former general manager Mike Lombardi said on his “GM Shuffle” podcast. “It’s his ankle. It’s his wrist. He broke his wrist the first day of spring ball one year. … He’s brittle. He is brittle. You can’t deny it.”

Tagovailoa’s perceived decline coincides with an uptick of interest for Oregon’s Justin Herbert, whom some predict could be selected by the Dolphins as the second quarterback off the board behind LSU’s Joe Burrow.

“I have Tua Tagovailoa rated higher than Herbert, but I think there’s a legitimate chance the Oregon QB goes ahead of Tua,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah wrote in a recent mock draft where he projected the Dolphins to take Herbert at No. 5.

The Dolphins intended to meet with Tagovailoa in-person first, but the two parties were unable to work out the details before visits were halted by the league in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from ESPN.

Herbert recently met with the Dolphins via video-conference, a source told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

“[Tagovailoa and Herbert are] both interesting kids. I’ve gotten to know both of them through this process. They’re really good people,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said Thursday during a pre-draft teleconference. “They’re both very talented players. Both have won a lot of games. They’re both intelligent players and winners.”

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