Once a generational prospect, Tua Tagovailoa now looks to be more risk than reward. Making him one of the worst options for the Detroit Lions.
With Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa officially declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, the stage is now set and the game is on for the NFL draft. As sad as Tuscaloosa was about the news, Detroit was as equally excited.
For the Detroit Lions, Tua was the last piece and most important piece of the puzzle to fall needed to complete their draft board picture sitting on the third overall pick.
Tua as an option in the draft means everything for the Lions as it adds so much value to their first-round pick any way they choose to use it, besides one … actually drafting him.
Tagovailoa played like a number one pick at Alabama … when he was playing. Due to a wide variety of injuries Tua missed or had to leave a total of eight games in his short two seasons as a starter for Alabama. Here’s a more detailed timeline of the Tua injury saga;
- March 2018 – Breaks finger on his own offensive lineman while throwing a pass during first spring practice. Required surgery.
- October 2018 – Spain’s knee before matchup versus Missouri. Still plays in the game.
- November 2018 – Injures left quad versus Mississippi State. Left game.
- December 2018 – Injures left ankle in the SEC Championship game versus Georgia. Left game and needed TightRope surgery.
- October 2019 – Suffers a high ankle sprain in Week 7 versus Tennessee, on his right leg this time. Left game and again needed ankle surgery. Missed following week versus Arkansas.
- November 2019 – Dislocates right hip versus Mississippi State. Surgery required. Missed remaining three weeks of the season.
So, if you remember Tua was thrown into the 2017 National Championship game for starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, after playing very little that season. The following offseason Tua brakes a finger in his first spring practice as a starter in March 2018 and it’s been in and out of surgical centers for Tagovailoa ever since.
If Mississippi State can break Tua every time they play him, what do you think the Chicago Bears could do to the guy? I just don’t see him lasting very long in the NFL. Now let’s bring to the table what the Lions already have going on for themselves going into the draft.
They have a team that is going into its third year under head coach Matt Patricia with a mandate from ownership to win next season. A 31-year-old 11-year quarterback who has played at an MVP level as recently as this past season. And of course, a defense that was ranked 26th in the NFL in 2019.
That all screams win now to me, not an oft-injured lottery ticket backup quarterback. But believe you me, your biggest concern is mine as well … as Stafford also had injuries in the past two seasons. That doesn’t mean you use the third overall pick to draft a quarterback more injury-prone than Stafford.
We are talking about an NFL ironman who had the sixth-longest consecutive start streak for a quarterback in NFL history at 136, who could still have three or fours years of top-five caliber quarterback play left in him.
If this Lions team can’t win with Stafford they’re definitely not winning with Tagovailoa. This means in drafting Tua you would have most likely wasted his whole rookie contract trying to get a winning team around him before you have to pay him or he breaks down. The model is to build the team then get your rookie quarterback, not the other way around.
You also don’t want the current regime picking the quarterback of the future with such a high resource if they’re on such thin ice. Drafting Tua would be a big hit to the possible success of the 2020 Lions with a win or fired mandate, even if he was to somehow stay healthy throughout an entire NFL season. This is and should be the Quinn-Patricia-Stafford show or bust.
Another option would be to trade Stafford, but I really don’t think that is a priority for the Lions. The front office just restructured his contract where his six million roster bonus for 2020 was spread out over the remaining years on the contract, instead of all at once next season. Good for 2020 salary cap room. Not good if you were trying to trade him after 2020.
Even after all that said, I’m actually not 100 percent against drafting Matthew Stafford’s heir apparent, not even with a first-round pick. But he would have to be a can’t miss type to use a pick this valuable. And there’s only one of them in this draft … and that’s LSU’s Joe Burrow. Tua Tagovailoa is damaged goods and would be one of the worst options for the Detroit Lions at three overall because of it.