Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is telling people he is very likely to turn pro, according to Tony Pauline of the NFL Draft Network. While just a couple weeks ago this news would have been considered obvious, the past week raised significant questions about his future.
The Hawaii-born quarterback sustained a serious hip injury in the Crimson Tide’s victory over Mississippi State that some compared to Bo Jackson‘s career-ending hip injury. While the news since has revealed the injury was not quite as severe as Jackson’s it was still quickly determined that he would miss the remained of the collegiate season.
A consensus favorite to be the top draft choice in the 2020 NFL draft entering the season, Tagovailoa’s status had lost some luster to players like Ohio State’s Chase Young and LSU’s Joe Burrow. Still, Tagovailoa remained a lock to go in the first few picks in the draft.
After the injury news broke their became legitimate questions as to how he would approach the process. While he remains an elite prospect if healthy, that if though is an even larger concern now. If he remains unable to show teams his pre-injury form prior to the draft, it remains difficult to decipher if teams would still be willing to risk a top selection on him.
Surrounding Tagovailoa is a draft class that includes Burrows, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, and Washington’s Jacob Eason who have all gotten first round buzz of their own. Furthermore, this offseasons free-agent class is set to have an abnormally strong crop of quarterbacks as well, which could limit the teams looking at the top of the draft.
Depending on Tagovailoa’s priorities though, the injury could be viewed as further incentive to turn pro now. For one, returning to school risks incurring another even more severe injury before receiving a paycheck, but also, the decline in his draft stock could have positive long-term implications if it allows him to go to a team with a better organizational infrastructure to help him succeed and compete immediately.