Over the past few years, the Reese’s Senior Bowl has undergone substantial growth, firmly establishing itself as the premier showcase for the NCAA's top prospects. However, astute NFL scouts recognize that other showcase bowl games, like the East-West Shrine Bowl, boast plenty of potential and under-the-radar players capable of transforming a franchise.
Just two years ago, quarterback Brock Purdy of the 49ers suited up for the same bowl game, hoping to hear his name called in the NFL Draft. It took Purdy three days to have his name announced, becoming the final pick of the NFL draft at No. 262, also known as Mr. Irrelevant. Yet, far from being irrelevant, Purdy now stands just a week away from the pinnacle of the sport, the Super Bowl. Along the way, he has not only proven his worth as the team's franchise quarterback but has also made a compelling case for consideration in the race for the NFL's MVP award.
With the quarterback position undoubtedly up in the air in Denver, the Broncos face the challenging task of evaluating every available prospect. While Denver isn't exactly in a position to take a gamble in search of their own ‘Brock Purdy,’ there's a prospect that could bring excitement to the Mile High City.
Taulia Tagovailoa – QB, Maryland
Before outright dismissing the idea of having Taulia Tagovailoa in Denver, give me a moment.
Standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing 200 lbs, Taulia Tagovailoa isn't exactly screaming ‘franchise quarterback.’ Similar to any rookie quarterback not in contention for a first-round draft pick, Tagovailoa has room to improve in terms of footwork and throwing mechanics, but that shouldn’t rule him out entirely.
In his Shrine Bowl outing, Tagovailoa showcased his prowess when scrambling outside the pocket, making throws on the run, and evading pressure. Completing 9 of 14 pass attempts for 142 yards and a 2-yard scramble for a touchdown, he demonstrated a playstyle that isn't entirely absent in Denver’s current quarterback situation. However, Tagovailoa comes at a much more affordable price tag compared to Russell Wilson’s $35.4 million cap hit this year.
During his time at Maryland, Tagovailoa navigated Mike Locksley’s offense, where RPOs were a staple every Saturday. Last season, Sean Payton effectively integrated RPOs, enabling Wilson to capitalize on chunk plays. Envisioning the Broncos running potent RPOs with a more youthful quarterback who can turn on the jets is an exciting prospect.
If the Broncos decide to part ways with Wilson, Tagovailoa may not be their initial choice for a replacement. Nevertheless, his combination of sheer athletic ability and arm talent is compelling enough for Denver to consider securing him as an UDFA, giving Sean Payton his own version of a ‘Taysom Hill’ or a Swiss army knife, if you will.