UPDATE: If Tagovailoa injury is serious, how will it impact his 2020 NFL draft stock?

2020 NFL draft injury

Tua Tagovailoa

Updated 11/21

More reports are coming out saying that injured Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will likely remain in the first round.

The latest comes from Walter Football’s Hot Press Report, as the website received responses from a number of NFL personnel.

“Six sources said they thought Tagovailoa would still go in the first round and likely in the top half of the first round because quarterbacks are too valuable to pass on. They all thought Tagovailoa would be go as a top-20 choice.”

Updated 11/17

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is out for the remainder with what The Athletic is reporting as a dislocated hip with a posterior wall fracture.

He is expected to make a full recovery, although how long that will take is unknown. The fracture makes the injury more serious.

Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero speculates that the injury will knock Tagovailoa out of the running for the No. 1 overall draft choice, adding that the Miami Dolphins could be in a position to draft the junior.

“… Multiple scouts have told the Miami Herald Tagovailoa’s durability and size questions could drop him anywhere through No. 5-7 overall in the next draft’s first round,” Salguero writes. “That estimate obviously increases Miami’s chances of landing Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft considering the team has won two consecutive games.

It also increases the chances the Dolphins will have to weigh whether they want Tagovailoa given the durability concerns.”

Tua Tagovailoa need only look at Nick Bosa and Jaylon Smith to gauge the impact a serious injury can have on a blue chip talent’s draft stock.

Tagovailoa, the 6-foot-1, 218-pound junior for Alabama, suffered an injury during the second quarter of the team’s game against Mississippi State. Media reports say it’s a right hip injury.

The severity is unknown (check back with Fanspeak’s NFL Draft News for updates), but ESPN’s Molly McGrath said Tagovailoa was screaming in pain as team doctors picked him up and carried him off the cart.

Prior to that injury, many draft analysts pegged Tagovailoa as the No. 1 overall prospect.

Now? It’s hard to say, but recent history suggests NFL decision-makers may be more forgiving of the injuries because of the position he plays.


The Nick Bosa injury

Bosa is the most recent example. The 6-foot-4, 266-pound rookie defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers suffered a partial ACL tear during his high school team’s district title game his senior year. Still, Bosa managed to play 13 games his freshman year and 14 his sophomore year at Ohio State, combining for 14 sacks.

And he was well on his way to surpassing those totals when Bosa suffered a core muscle injury in the team’s third game. Bosa then called it quits at Ohio State, finishing his junior season with 4 sacks, to focus on rehabilitation and preparing for the upcoming NFL draft.

As it turns out, those injuries mattered little, as Bosa still wound up going No. 2 overall in the 2019 NFL draft. Although he missed time in preseason with a high ankle sprain, Bosa has still managed to compile 7 sacks and one forced fumble and interception. He’s the early-favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Jaylon Smith injury

Then there’s the story of former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith – a tale that’s been told over and over again. The short version: Smith, once thought to be a top-5 pick, suffered a severe knee injury in his final game, tearing both his MCL and ACL. Initially, there were concerns that Smith might never walk again, let alone play football.

So instead of being a high first-rounder in 2016, Smith wound up going to the Dallas Cowboys early in the second round (No. 34 overall), sat out a year, had a shaky second season, then blossomed into one of the top young linebackers in the league by his third season. In just three seasons, the 6-foot-2, 248-pound Smith has 283 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 8 passes defensed in 41 games and counting.

What does this mean for Tagovailoa?

The bottom line? If a blue chip talent suffers a serious injury – and it’s still too early to say that about Tagovailoa – then his draft stock is going to depend on the long-term prognosis of his injuries and the position he plays.

Simply put, a good quarterback or pass rusher is usually going to have a bigger impact than a great linebacker in today’s game. And Bosa and Tagovailoa  play at premium positions.

As Dallas Morning News columnist and Hall of Fame voter Rick Gosselin once said, “The two key elements of a successful football team are the quarterback and the pass rush. Those would be my priorities at the top of the draft.”

So no matter the severity of Tagovailoa’s injury, it’s possible that he could still find his name called among the top-5 picks if he decides to enter the 2020 NFL draft.

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