The Denver Broncos are six games away from securing their third-straight top 10 NFL Draft pick. What if they have the chance to take Tua Tagovailoa?
The Denver Broncos have plenty of questions to answer about their roster between now and the 2020 NFL Draft. The biggest question — what is the plan at quarterback?
At this point, at least in my opinion, the Broncos have been dragging their heels with 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock. Lock certainly needed some seasoning coming out of Missouri, drinking an NFL system through a firehose and suffering a thumb injury on top of it.
But the Broncos have been slow-playing Lock’s eventual insertion into the lineup despite a season-ending injury to previous starting quarterback Joe Flacco, whose productivity with the Broncos was at an all-time low.
Everyone has to be hoping at this point that Lock is the answer at the quarterback position for the Broncos, and he very well could be. We haven’t gotten the chance to see him in regular season play, but he did some nice things in preseason play and showed improvement in all of his games before getting hurt.
With that said, would the Broncos pass on a prospect like Tua Tagovailoa in favor of Drew Lock? I think they could, and they ultimately might, but the idea that Tagovailoa would be available to the Broncos had barely crossed my mind until his recent hip injury.
Tagovailoa suffered a devastating dislocated right hip and a posterior wall fracture. If you thought falling right on your tailbone hurt…
This is just the latest in a pretty lengthy history of injuries for Tagovailoa. He’s struggled with ankle injuries primarily but has also had to miss time due to a quad injury earlier in his career and has had other injuries, probably some we don’t even know about.
Despite his nagging ankle injuries, Tagovailoa played and played at a Heisman level in 2018, then again in 2019 coming back and playing at a high level just a couple of weeks after having surgery on one of his ankles.
There’s no questioning Tagovailoa’s mental or physical toughness at this point, and there’s certainly no questioning his talent.
What needs to be questioned is whether or not his injuries are of the ‘freak’ variety or if this is just an injury-prone guy.
Broncos fans probably cringe at the thought of drafting a guy in the top 10 who has a history of injuries like this, but the reality is, if Tua slips down the board in the top 10 because of his injuries and he’s sitting there on the board when John Elway has a decision to make, it will be incredibly difficult to justify passing on him.
Thanks to modern medicine, it sounds like Tagovailoa is going to be able to make a full recovery from this and get back to football activities in the Spring.
Tagovailoa has big-time talent in just about every regard. Truly the only weakness I can think of with him as a prospect is his injury history. We know he can make every throw. He mixes velocity on his passes like a pro already. He sees the field exceptionally well and is a magician at escaping pressure in the pocket.
When healthy, Tagovailoa is a threat on the ground as well and can fit the ball into tight windows as a passer. We also know that Nick Saban is going to speak highly of this young man as a person and a leader. He was willing to put him in the National Championship game back in the 2017-18 season when Tagovailoa was a true freshman and the Crimson Tide were down 13-0 at halftime to Georgia.
Not only did Tagovailoa lead the Crimson Tide to a comeback win, he established the foundation of the best and most well-rounded offensive group we’ve seen from Alabama in the Nick Saban era.
There’s no denying this kid’s skill as a football player and his ability to come into an NFL program and compete immediately. This is the guy teams were supposed to be tanking for, remember?
So what if teams picking in the top five are scared off of his injury history? Does that fear automatically disappear outside of the top five? Not necessarily, but Tagovailoa is such a difference-maker at the quarterback position, it’s hard to deny the appeal of the Broncos being able to take him with their first-round pick if he’s available.
This is much easier to say when Drew Lock hasn’t played and we have nothing but preseason games and our pre-draft evaluations on him to be excited about, but at this particular point in time, the idea of Tagovailoa to the Broncos is not only not impossible, it’s something we could ultimately see next April.
Quarterbacks are the most valuable currency in the NFL. The Broncos would obviously love to be able to build their next draft class around the idea that Drew Lock is the quarterback of the future, but in the event that he isn’t or that they have Tagovailoa graded that much higher — as in, he would be the top QB on their board if healthy — it presents us with a fascinating debate to have over the course of the next six months.