There have been many questions surrounding Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but there’s one big one that everyone wants to know the answer to. Will Tua Tagovailoa enter the 2020 NFL Draft or return to school for his senior season?
With speculation running rampant that he may be returning, Pro Football Network Draft Analyst and Insider Tony Pauline has been talking to sources close to the situation in an effort to find out more information. Below are several updates over the past few days.
(January 6 Update) Tua Tagovailoa has officially declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Click here for all of the latest information and news regarding his decision.
(January 5 Update) After conversing with almost a half dozen sources over the course of the day, it’s anybody’s guess as to what Tua Tagovailoa will announce at Monday’s press conference, scheduled to take place at 12 Noon EST with Nick Saban.
The big variable according to people in the know is the recent medical feedback Tagovailoa received on the hip injury – and no one seems to know what the updated prognosis is, or at least no one seems willing to talk about the latest medical updates.
The general feeling is if reports say Tagovailoa will be healthy enough to play this season, then he should enter the draft, which many believe he will do.
The one question I asked every source was this – why make the decision tomorrow and not wait until the underclassmen deadline, which is January 20? A decision on Monday would lend itself to the belief Tagovailoa will return to Alabama for 2020 but one source close to the situation told me they believe the January 6 deadline was set by the Alabama program so as to not interfere with recruiting.
We will have updates as they come in.
(January 2 Update) On our NFL Draft Insider’s Podcast that was published on Thursday, Pauline had a chance to weigh in with more details, especially after Tagovailoa tweeted that he would be announcing his decision on January 6.
Pauline continued to say that everything he was hearing makes him believe that Tagovailoa is leaning towards declaring for the NFL Draft. The conversation begins at the 25:03 mark and can be heard by clicking here. We’ve also included the podcast player at the end of the article for easy listening.
“If his heart was set to come back, I don’t think he’d push the date back to January 6. I think you’d announce right away that you’re coming back,” said Pauline. “…everything I’ve heard early on when people in Tua’s inner circle said he was leaning towards entering the NFL Draft…and last week when I was talking to people, they had said his team had been talking about representation and it looked like they were going to split agencies – one was going to do the contract while the other agency was going to handle marketing…no one I’ve talked has told me that his actions lead them to believe that he is going to return to Alabama. Everything seems like he is going to enter the draft.”
Pauline emphasized that we don’t know if he has any medical appointments in the next few days and cautioned that if he does, a negative update could change his decision. Pauline speculated that Tagovailoa may be waiting to hear an update regarding his hip before making a final decision.
That means all options are on the table, which is confirmed by PFN Insider Ben Allbright. He reports that some within the scouting community are saying Tua (and his father who is heavily involved in the decision-making process) are considering all options, including a very real return to Alabama.
(January 1 Update) On the most recent episode of the BLEAV Draft Analyst podcast with Chris Tripodi, Pauline broke what he was hearing. The conversation is here and begins at the 3:00 minute mark.
“Everything I hear leads me to believe that Tua will enter the draft. I’ve been told that he’s talking with different agencies and may split up the way it’s done in an unconventional way where one agency does the contract and another does the marketing for him. Bottom line – everything I’ve heard makes me believe that Tua – sooner, rather than later – will make himself eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft.”
Why enter the draft and not return to school?
The official deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft is January 20, so there is still time for Tagovailoa to make his decision. As Pauline reported, head coach Nick Saban is making a strong push for his underclassmen to return to school because many were receiving grades lower than some thought they would. Additionally, it would make Alabama an instant favorite for the college football playoffs and the national championship.
But with Saban stating that Tagovailoa received a top-15 grade from the advisory committee, it might make sense for him to enter the draft and work his way up draft boards through interviews and perhaps, doing a little on-field work if his rehab allows him. If that is the route Tagovailoa takes, Pauline says that teams and fans will need to be patient.
“Everybody wants answers about his injury now – you’re not going to get them for a long time. We heard the surgery was successful,” Pauline said back in November. “That’s successful by the surgeon’s standards. But is it good enough for NFL teams and their standards? There’s going to be plenty of speculation and talk. It doesn’t matter until he gets to the NFL Combine medical exams because Combine medicals are a different beast altogether and they vary by team.”
Pauline went on to say that we’ll have a better, clearer picture once the teams conduct their medical exams.
“After the teams conduct their medical exams, maybe some leaks will come out. His doctors can say now that everything is going to be OK and he’ll make a full recovery but until the team doctors look at the hip, the X-Rays, do their diagnosis, and then give their opinions to the scouting staff and general manager – nothing matters.”
There are also many financial considerations to consider either way, and that isn’t lost on Tagovailoa and those who are advising him.
A storied college career if Tagovailoa declares
If Tagovailoa enters the draft, he will be one of the most highly scrutinized draft prospects this offseason with his medical history taking center stage. If this is the end of his college career, he’ll finish 7,442 yards in the air, 87 passing touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. His storied college career also includes numerous awards, including the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien, Walter Camp, Manning, and Sporting News CFB Player of the Year.
Tagovailoa was a finalist for the 2018 Heisman Trophy Award, finishing second behind Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. This season, he was going up against stiff competition against the likes of Joe Burrow and Chase Young.