Every week, I open up the mailbag for anyone to send me their questions on the current college football season, the NFL, or the 2020 NFL Draft. This week, the Week 12 NFL mailbag includes questions on Tua Tagovailoa’s draft stock, the future of Cam Newton in Carolina, and which two players are the favorites to be the first overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. I also touch on which teams might regret previously surrendering 2020 draft capital.

Do you have a question you want to send to me? Send it to [email protected], and we’ll be sure to include it in an upcoming mailbag column. 

The Tony Pauline Mailbag

Tony, how does Tua Tagovailoa’s injury affect his 2020 NFL Draft stock? Wouldn’t he be better off returning to school if he’s not QB1?

While the initial word from his surgeon was positive, there is still so much more that needs to be played out and examined. At the same time, there is no denying the injury will have a major effect on Tagovailoa’s draft stock if he decides to enter the event.

If Tua enters the draft, I see him being selected in the bottom third of round one. More on that later this week.

Going back to school should be a consideration for Tagovailoa. If he’s not going to be healthy enough to play a full season in 2020, he may want to return to Alabama and play the final couple of games with the hopes he moves towards the 2021 NFL Draft with a higher grade than he may have if he enters the 2020 draft.

Everyone wants definitive answers today. But there are just too many variables at the present time to give anything other than opinions, and they could change.

While it is still very early, who do you see having the inside track to becoming the first overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft?

I’d say one of the quarterbacks, and right now Joe Burrow has the edge. But if Justin Herbert blows away the Cincinnati Bengals at the Senior Bowl, assuming they own the first overall pick, you cannot dismiss the possibility that he’s the first selection of the draft.

With how the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback situation is playing, how realistic is it that we could see Cam Newton elsewhere next season?

I think it’s a possibility, but the franchise must first decide if they are keeping the general manager and head coach, or if they are going in a different direction.

If Marty Hurney and Ron Rivera return, I believe Newton will also be in Carolina next year.

Tony, which positions are viewed as the weakest in April’s draft?

Tight end is marginal, inside linebacker looks top-heavy, and I’m not a big fan of the safety class on an overall basis.

Looking at the picks that have already been dealt in the 2020 NFL Draft, which teams do you feel are currently second-guessing giving up draft capital given how their seasons have progressed and where they may be set to select in April?

Great question.

From where we stand today, you’ve got to point the finger at the Bears considering what they’ve given up and where they presently sit in the standings with no first-round selection.

Obviously the Texans are another team. They don’t need to just make the playoffs for their gamble to pay off – they have to get deep into the playoffs, and I don’t see that happening.

On the flip side, the Steelers gamble has paid off. I also think it will pay off for the Los Angeles Rams.

Everyone’s been talking up the skill position players in the upcoming draft, but how does this draft class rank in terms of offensive line prospects? Is there enough depth to take a quarterback in the first round and still be okay to target a good offensive lineman in later rounds?

It depends on what positions along the offensive line you are referring to and when a team is selecting in the later rounds. Let me assume the top underclassmen enter the draft. In that case:

1- You should be able to get starting-caliber offensive tackles through pick 75 of the 2020 NFL Draft.
2- The center class has four to five prospects who could start at the next level.
3- The guard class is not top-heavy but has a lot of depth in the middle rounds, and you can usually find players at this position in the fifth or sixth round who develop into starters in the NFL.

Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365. Also, be sure to join us on Saturday for the PFN College Football Game Day Blog, as Tony and the rest of PFN’s NFL Draft team give the latest analysis and inside scoops on the day’s games.