Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated hip this past Saturday against Mississippi State, ending his season and putting his NFL future in jeopardy. It’s terrible news for one of the best and most-liked players in college football. However, he’s expected to make a full recovery, so there is some silver lining to this news. But now, this injury has left NFL teams who needed quarterbacks scrambling. The good news for them is that they will have several weeks to further scout potential first round quarterbacks.
So, how does Tagovailoa’s injury impact the 2020 quarterback draft class? Here’s a few scenarios that I can see playing out.
If anything, Tua’s practically solidifies LSU QB Joe Burrow as the future number one draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He outdueled Tua when they played Alabama, and he’s displayed phenomenal traits this season. He’s a lot more than just a one-year wonder; he’s a franchise quarterback. Hello, Cincinnati Bengals.
If there is one quarterback that stands to benefit the most, it’s Oregon’s Justin Herbert. He was viewed as the QB1 or QB2 before the season, but the emergence of Joe Burrow pushed him down draft boards. Now with Tua hurt, Herbert stands to be the second (and possibly even first) quarterback taken. He’s the most talented quarterback in this class, and he has quietly had a phenomenal year. The 6-foot-6 gunslinger is up for the Davey O’Brien Award and is in the running for the Heisman Trophy award as well.
Oregon hasn’t played a whole lot of talented teams, but Herbert has diced up secondaries all season. He’d likely have higher numbers if he didn’t play in Oregon’s offense, but Herbert makes pro-caliber, highlight-reel throws week in and week out.
The senior QB is currently sitting at a 69.6% completion percentage that rises to 76.5% when you factor for all the drops the Oregon wide receivers have amassed this season. However, the conservative Oregon offense makes this number much higher, as Herbert rarely gets a shot to cut it loose. When he does, however…
What a throw. pic.twitter.com/r2A74UYBey
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 17, 2019
I think Herbert has a serious argument to be the first quarterback taken in the draft to, say, Cincinnati. He would be a solid fit in their offense, especially if Zac Taylor wants to build the Bengals similar to how Sean McVay built up the Rams. The past few weeks have shown that having a little more mobility with Ryan Finley can help an offensive line out, and Herbert is an excellent athlete. Let Herbert operate under center and operate with a play-action oriented passing offense, and I think he’ll shine. Plus, after watching Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley this season, you have to imagine how the Bengals coaching staff and front office would value Justin Herbert’s ability to make throws at every level of the field.
It’s also apparent that the Dolphins have spent an enormous amount of resources scouting Herbert as well. This leads me to my belief that if Justin Herbert isn’t the first quarterback taken in the 2020 quarterback draft class, he is most likely the second. Herbert has couple more games this season, including a test against Utah’s talented secondary in the Pac-12 title game. I don’t know if they’ll make the college football playoffs, but that would be a phenomenal test for Herbert.
The oft-forgotten name this draft season is Utah State’s Jordan Love. After a strong season last year, the Utah State team has fallen apart with the departure of their coaching staff and several talented playmakers. Unfortunately, this is getting taken out on Jordan Love, who is still a phenomenally gifted quarterback. He’s out there basically playing hero-ball each week trying to pull the Aggies to a victory, which has worked for the most part, as USU is 6-4.
Love is prone to boneheaded decisions as a result of this hero-ball mentality, which has given him an abysmal 13:14 touchdown to interception ratio. Many draft analysts want Love to grad-transfer elsewhere for his final college season before he declares for the draft, but I believe he should declare. I think it’ll be a decision for many teams between Love and Tua for the third quarterback selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
With such abysmal stats, is it an argument? There’s one to be made. I think teams will lean more towards Love’s 2018 season than his 2019 season with his evaluation, and they’ll notice his playmaking ability and talent stand out. Love is right up there with Justin Herbert for the most talented passer in this class.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 16, 2019
People will leave Love off after his season or call him overrated, but his 2018 season was where he really shined. He’s had flashes of plays against the top competition that Utah State has played, such as Wake Forest and LSU, but his team was still largely outmatched in those games. He’s a talented passer, and I think a team is going to bank on his untapped potential. I would really like him in Tampa Bay with Bruce Arians, or maybe as a Los Angeles Charger to be the eventual successor to Philip Rivers.
The intrigue arises with the other players in the 2020 quarterback class. What about Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm? What about Jalen Hurts? Does Tua impact them at all?
Truthfully, I don’t see any of these quarterbacks as first-round selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. What if Tua falls out of the first-round? His injury risk is significant enough that perhaps teams don’t want to invest a high pick on him. Does a team gamble on the upside of Jacob Eason’s arm, despite him being well behind Tua in other critical areas? Does a team select Jalen Hurts first? To me, I actually think his injury could hurt these other quarterbacks. A team that could have selected one of these players towards the end of the first or the beginning of the second will now have the option to take Tua…which they probably should.
I still have a hard time believing Tua falls out of the first round, but if he somehow does, the Colts should take him and run with Washington’s second-round pick. They would turn the 26th pick in the 2019 draft into LB Ben Banogu, DB Marvell Tell, and Tua. What a haul that would be.
Ultimately, Tua’s injury allows for the other quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft class to rise up the rankings. Justin Herbert and Jordan Love have a couple more games to really sell their stock before the end of the season. With Tua’s injury, the rise of the other quarterbacks in this 2020 draft class is one of the biggest storylines to monitor for the rest of the year.