Tua Tagovailoa makes the right decision declaring for 2020 NFL Draft

NCAA Football, NFL Draft

Tua Tagovailoa has made his decision and is headed to the 2020 NFL Draft, bypassing his senior season at Alabama.

The injury added some intrigue into the decision but Tua Tagovailoa has declared for the NFL Draft and will leave Alabama with one more year of eligibility. Tua was long viewed as the top overall prospect entering the season and into the fall but a broken hip suffered against Mississippi State in mid-November changed everything.

The injury which brings an uncertain recovery period and a multitude of questions for NFL teams to ask themselves had some thinking Tua would put off the NFL for one more year and return to Alabama to rehab the injury and restore his NFL Draft stock before entering the 2021 draft.

Despite many unknowns, the belief was the risk of returning to school where he’d play for free and subject himself to another potential injury could have had catastrophic effects on his future. The smart play was always Tua declaring for the NFL Draft even if he was viewed as a gamble due to the hip prognosis.

The elevated play of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has put him on track to be the No. 1 pick by the Cincinnati Bengals but quarterback is always an in-demand position and Tua could still be the second quarterback taken. Even if he has to sit out the majority or all of his rookie season, which may be the smart play regardless, Tua will have a handful of teams picking early in the first round who could make him their first round pick.

Owning the No. 5 pick, the Miami Dolphins were the subject of many jokes in the summer and early fall with them “tanking for Tua” but despite a season that was more successful than even the most optimistic Fins fan would have thought, they could still end up with the Alabama signal-caller.

In addition to the Dolphins, the Los Angeles Chargers (6), Carolina Panthers (7), Oakland Raiders (12), Indianapolis Colts (13) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14) could all be in the market for Tua.

The initial fear after the hip injury was whether Tua could have slid entirely out of the first round, which would have made his decision to return to school a little more palatable to recoup the lost money. According to Nick Saban, Tua received a top-15 grade from the NFL Draft advisory board so teams picking at or near the bottom of the first will have to adopt a different plan if they were hoping the greatest Alabama quarterback in program history fell to them.

For Alabama, they’ll begin life after Tua, something they’ve prepared for after his ascension last year as a sophomore that saw him finish as the Heisman runner-up and smash a host of single-season Alabama records. Mac Jones took over for Alabama after Tua was lost for the year and has shown he’s capable of leading the offense and the team next year. Alabama can win the SEC with Jones under center.

Jones will compete with Tua’s younger brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, who was the team’s third-stringer and moved up to the backup for Jones after Tua’s injury.

Alabama also added incoming freshman and Gatorade Player of the Year, Bryce Young, who destroyed the record books at Mater Dei High School in California, the alma mater of Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley and JT Daniels, among others.

Young has the highest upside of anyone in the Alabama quarterback room but expecting him to start right away as a freshman may be asking too much. Could he play a role in the offense and carve out a larger timeshare as the season progresses? Of course. But expect Jones to be the starter and for Alabama to be a preseason top-five team.

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