The start of the 2020 NFL Draft is now two weeks away, and one of the most intriguing players to watch is Hawaii’s Tua Tagovailoa. All indications are that the 6-0, 217-lb. QB out of Ewa Beach and Saint Louis School has recovered nicely from last season’s devastating hip injury. (It should be noted, however, that, because of social distancing policies brought on by COVID-19, NFL teams have not been able to conduct in-person physical exams on draft prospects. This may scare away some teams from drafting players with a history of injuries.)
Most mock drafts we’ve seen have Tagovailoa going to the Miami Dolphins, who currently have the fifth overall pick in the draft. It makes sense, since the Dolphins have reportedly coveted the former Crimson Tide QB for some time (giving birth to last season’s “Tank for Tua” narrative”).
But unless you’re a Dolphins fan, do you really want to see Tagoviloa in South Beach? This is a team that has had a winning record just once in the past 11 seasons. The Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since 2000. And they’ve had six different head coaches in the last ten years. Basically, this is a franchise that hasn’t been relevant since Dan Marino retired in 1999.
Of course, money is a consideration. If Miami does select Tagovailoa at No. 5, he would likely make more than $29.3 million over four years. That’s the contract that former LSU linebacker Devin White received as the No. 5 pick in 2019. And no doubt, a competitor like Tagovailoa would welcome the opportunity to lead a down-and-out franchise back to Super Bowl glory.
But we can think of a few teams that would offer better situations for a promising young QB like Tagovailoa. In fact, here are five:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Let’s start with the obvious. The Patriots currently have a gaping hole at the QB position. Despite that, our guess is that head coach Bill Belichick isn’t exactly shedding tears over Tom Brady’s departure; if anything, he’s probably relishing the opportunity to show the football world that he can win without the GOAT. No doubt, the Pats have a winning system in place, and Belichick loves winners and leaders. Realistically, New England doesn’t have enough pieces to trade that far up in the first round to land Tagovailoa. Then again, we never thought we’d see Brady in Tampa Bay, either.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Many NFL scouts have compared Tagovailoa to the Saints’ Drew Brees. Legendary talent evaluator Gil Brandt recently referred to him as “a left-handed Drew Brees.” Brees just turned 41 in January. Do the math. Next to New England, New Orleans might have the best overall organization in the NFL. Tagovailoa would be the ideal heir apparent, especially with weapons like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: On a franchise starving for relevancy, do you really think the Chargers want Tyrod Taylor as their starting QB? L.A. needs a fresh face to lure fans to their new stadium, and Tagovailoa could fit the bill. He’s have some weapons to work with, too, such as TE Hunter Henry and WR Keenan Allen. The possibility of Tagovailoa in L.A. is very plausible, as the team has the Draft’s No. 6 pick, right after Miami. If the Dolphins decide to go with Oregon’s Justin Herbert, well…
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Yes, we know the Raiders just signed Marcus Mariota. And we know Derek Carr is still penciled in as the team’s starter. But work with us here. We’re not convinced that head coach Jon Gruden is completely all in on Carr. What if the Raiders package Carr and their No. 12 pick in a trade to land Tagovailoa? Suddenly, Mariota is the starter and Tagovailoa becomes his understudy. (Just like old times!) Two Hawaii QBs playing on Hawaii’s “Ninth Island” would be hitting the jackpot.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Let’s face it: At 38 years of age and his skills in decline, Phillip Rivers at this point in his career is simply a placeholder for the Colts’ next franchise QB. And although the Colts were 7-9 in 2019 and missed the playoffs, they have some pieces in place to contend in the AFC South. In this scenario, Tagovailoa would sit behind Rivers for a year, then take over as the starter. Taking what would essentially be a redshirt year can be beneficial. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has pointed out that four of the five current winningest QBs in the league didn’t play in their rookie year. And how cool would it be to see Tagovailoa leading the Colts’ offense and DeForest Buckner leading the defense?
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