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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
Post Draft Analysis
ESPN Insider Draft Analysis (paid subscription)
NFL.COM Draft Analysis
NFL Draft Bible Analysis (paid subscription)
Pro Football Focus Draft Analysis (paid subscription)
Pro Football Network (Tony Pauline) Analysis
Walter Football Analysis
Bleacher Report Analysis
Yahoo! Sports (Ed Edholm) *
The Dolphins are rolling the dice on greatness. Durability questions cloud — and dominate — Tagovailoa's evaluation, but he's a quick processor with uncanny accuracy who should find ways to thrive if healthy.
Draft Grade: A
Walter Football *
The Dolphins once didn't sign Drew Brees because they deemed him too risky. A few years later, they passed on Matt Ryan because they wanted to go the safer route with Jake Long. This time, they didn't make the mistake. The Dolphins medically cleared Tua Tagovailoa, so he had to be the choice at No. 5 overall. What makes this an A+ is that the Dolphins didn't have to trade up for him. The Miami front office did a great job of not panicking and getting its franchise quarterback.
Draft Grade: A+
Pro Football Focus *
After months of speculation, we finally got our answer — Tua Tagovailoa is a Miami Dolphin. Even with the injury, Tagovailoa was the second-ranked player on the PFF Draft Board because he does everything you want at an elite level. Tagovailoa’s accuracy, decision-making and pocket presence are light years ahead of Justin Herbert, who was reportedly also in the mix at Pick No. 5. Still, Tua was the only quarterback to post back-to-back 90.0-plus passing grades over the last two seasons. Sure, the injury is something to be worried about, but this was 100% the best possible scenario for the Dolphins.
While Tagovailoa is generally quick and decisive in the pocket, his best work comes when he can confirm his receiver’s leverage and put the ball in a good spot where his guy can get it. This skill translates well to systems with option routes where Tua can take the extra split second to ensure that his receiver is on the same page before throwing with accuracy against the leverage of the defender. This isn’t to say that he can’t throw without anticipation, but he has an excellent feel for seeing his receiver and then throwing accurately with his quick release.
NFL Network (Daniel Jeremiah) *
I come down to two words: urgency and twitch. That’s what you see when watch Tua. It’s quick eyes, quick decisions, quick feet, quick release. Another thing I love about him is it’s never too big for him. The moment has never been too big for him.
NFL Network (Kurt Warner) *
When you watch him play between the lines, what jumps out at you is the quickness by which he plays the game. And it starts with that left arm. His ability to get the ball out of his hands. His short- to mid-range accuracy is deadly. And then you talk about the quickness of his feet. In the RPO [run/pass option] game, I’m not sure I’ve seen that many quarterbacks at the college level that are better in the RPO game at being able to read the linebackers, set his feet and get the ball out accurately.
ESPN (Louis Riddick) *
They hit a home run. I’m glad they wound up taking him. There are so many things to like about him. He has so many traits that really transfer to the NFL, the touch on the deep ball. Don’t underestimate Tua’s arm. He can throw the ball with velocity, throw on the move.
ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr.) *
Turn on the tape and he’s phenomenal a super-accurate passer with everything NFL teams look for from their long-term starting quarterback. He needs to be more aware in the pocket [to avoid injuries]. So anticipatory a thrower. He’s not [simply] accurate; he’s precise, he’s a dart thrower. Left-handed Drew Brees. He needs to medically redshirt.
ESPN (Kirk Herbstreit) *
Love his decision making, his accuracy. How many times have we seen him make a throw where the receiver would catch the ball in stride? He’s going to have to learn to get down on some plays. But as far as everything you would look for being that franchise quarterback, he’s got it all.
ESPN (Jesse Palmer) *
The most important thing a quarterback has to have is great decision making and Tua certainly has that: 88 career touchdown passes, 11 interceptions. And I love the way Tua plays fast. He drops back quickly. He reads coverage quickly. The ball gets out of his hand fast. It just seems like he’s playing at a different gear that everybody else. To me, Tua has everything. There’s no doubt they’ve found their franchise quarterback.
CBS Sports (Pete Prisco) *
Grade: B. I understand why they picked him. The tape is good at times. There's also a lot of bad on that tape. He's not a big guy, he's a little brittle. To dismiss the medicals is ridiculous.
Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer) *
The Dolphins come full circle on Tagovailoa (6-0, 217 pounds) as their future franchise QB after creating several smokescreens. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under contract as a veteran bridge for one more year, they have time to get Tagovailoa up to speed physically and mentally should he need more time to heal. When healthy, Tagovailoa is an accurate, mobile, deep-ball throwing QB with the upside of Russell Wilson, only throwing with his left arm.
NFL.com (Chad Reuter) *
Tagovailoa’s injury history might have caused him to drop a couple of spots, but teams will regret not moving up to get him. The Dolphins did not pass on Tua, despite the injuries, avoiding repeating the mistake they made with Drew Brees in free agency back in 2006. Is this pick a risk? Yes, but greatness often starts with a risk. His accuracy is off the charts, his athleticism is excellent and his character impeccable. Build around this guy.
NFL.com (Greg Rosenthal) *
Tua's quick release, quick eyes, quick feet resetting in the pocket and quick decision-making make him look like a left-handed Drew Brees. More than a decade after Nick Saban passed on the chance to bring Brees to Miami because of injury concerns, Flores and Grier righted a wrong -- and they may have just snapped the post-Dan Marino Dolphins quarterback curse.
Tagovailoa started 24 of 29 possible games over his last two seasons and completed 70% of his throws with 76 touchdown passes and nine interceptions (a ridiculous 8.4-1 ratio). While he lacks ideal height, he has fast eyes, outstanding field vision from inside the pocket and natural instincts. His release is quick and compact, and he with good arm strength. His touch and accuracy are elite on all three levels, and he displays rare anticipation and timing. Tagovailoa has a great feel for trajectory and throws a beautiful deep ball. He is also a twitchy athlete with a very good feel for pressure, and he has above-average mobility in the pocket and good quickness to tuck the ball and run for first downs. He has excellent poise under pressure, as the moment is never too big for him, and he bounces back from mistakes. Durability is obviously the biggest concern. He was not the same quarterback late in the 2018 season when dealing with lower-leg injuries. He has had a knee injury, two ankle surgeries and a season-ending hip injury in 2019. Tagovailoa is a special talent -- very similar to a left-handed version of Drew Brees. His field vision, suddenness and natural accuracy are unique traits. Ultimately, his medical reports will decide where he is selected. -- March 2020
Tagovailoa is a left-handed quarterback with excellent field vision, accuracy and athletic ability. He has a quick, compact release and good arm strength. He shows excellent poise under pressure and the moment is never too big for him. He compares favorably to Drew Brees. -- Steve Muench
The Dolphins traded a second-round pick for Josh Rosen last year, but he lost the starting job to 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick. Neither is the long-term answer. While Miami finished 12th in passing yards per game, it finished 25th in scoring offense and 27th in total offense. The return of Fitzpatrick means the Dolphins don't have to rush Tagovailoa. Most importantly, Tagovailoa is arguably the best quarterback in this class if he's healthy. You can't pass on him if you are comfortable with the medical. -- Steve Muench
Tua Tagovailoa (pronounced TOO-uh Tongue-OH-vai-LO-uh) became a household name as a true freshman, replacing Tide starter Jalen Hurts at the start of the second half of the 2017 National Championship Game to lead the team to a comeback victory (14 of 24, 166 yards, three TD, INT). As a follow-up, Tagovailoa won the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards in 2018, along with SEC Offensive Player of the Year and second-team Associated Press All-American honors. He started all 15 games, completing 69 percent of his passes (245 of 355) for 3,966 yards, 43 TDs and six INTS. His junior season was cut to nine starts (180 of 252, 71.4 percent completion rate, 2,840 yards, 33 TDs, three INTs) as he fought through an ankle issue and then suffered a hip injury that ended his season but was not considered career-threatening. It was no surprise that Tagovailoa starred early in his career in Tuscaloosa. The Hawaii High School Player of the Year in 2016 (3,932 yards, 43 passing TDs) and son of an American Samoan father was a five-star recruit and the top dual-threat quarterback nationally, as well as the MVP of the Elite 11 competition.
Talented dual-threat quarterback with winning background, explosive production and loads of experience in high-leverage games. He may be pigeon-holed into a spread or RPO-heavy attack, but he's actually a clean fit in a pro-style attack filled with play-action and roll-outs. He has the release, accuracy and touch needed to work all three levels successfully and can become a more disciplined, full-field reader to piece the puzzle together against NFL coverages. He needs better poise when pressured, but his escapability not only moves the chains, it creates chunk plays in the air and on the ground. Teams assessing his draft value will need to sift through mounting durability concerns and decide whether he is a "face of the franchise" talent without the abundance of talent surrounding him.
TUA TAGOVAILOA | Alabama | QB | #13 | JR |
6000 | 217 | 1000 | 3048 | 7528 | 4.58 |
Ewa Beach, HI | St. Louis HS | 03.02.98 | NIC | 8.3/9.7 | Rd1
If you were to poll the prominent key decision makers in the NFL, most would likely concur that the ‘Crimson Cannon’ is the premier draft-eligible prospect in the land early in the
college football season. Ever since being inserted into the National Championship game as a freshman, Tagovailoa has been near flawless, guiding The Crimson Tide to an undefeated mark,
while showing all the attributes of a future franchise quarterback. While he is no doubt a dual-threat signal-caller, Tagovailoa does an excellent job biding his time in the pocket, reading
through his progressions and making the smart decision. This allows him to spray the ball around the field and get an array of players involved on offense. Not only can he make all the
throws but part of the allure of Tagovailoa is his rare ability to make the ‘special’ throws. The Hawaii native is cool as a cucumber under pressure (similar demeanor to Marcus Mariota) and
earns high marks for having outstanding character. A mature individual, who handles the media masterfully, while treating others with respect on and off the field—a true pleasure to be
around, plus a phenomenal overall talent. Tagovailoa clearly doesn’t possess ideal height but the value of that measurement has certainly been devalued in the current NFL climate. If
anything is going to threaten the future success of Tagovailo, it is going to be his durability concerns. The ankle injury during the 2018 season was highlighted extensively. With his most
recent hip injury that cost him the end of the 2019 season, health is becoming a major concern for Tua moving forward. How these physical ailments affect his game from a playing style
perspective remain to be seen. The way the lefty-throwing Tagovailoa operates, along with his innate ability to scramble and re-occurring clutch performances is very reminiscent of Steve
Young, making him one of the premier draft-eligible prospects in America.
Tagovailoa experienced a season ending hip injury in 2019 in their matchup with Mississippi State, suffering a right hip dislocation with a fracture to the posterior wall of the socket
in 2019. This is the same injury that former Raiders Bo Jackson suffered that eventually led to the end of his career. According to reports at the NFL Combine, his medical evaluation came
back ‘looking great’ and MRIs were clean, his hip fracture was healed and there was no loss of blood flow. Dr. Norman Waldrop was quoted as saying, he has no reason to think that he’s not
going to have anything but an exceptional recovery [from his hip injury]. Previously, he suffered a high ankle sprain during the 2018 SEC Championship Game, which required surgery—he
actually injured both ankles in that game. However, Tagovailoa was back on the field in just a few weeks, in time to lead Alabama to the national championship. His ankle procedure is a
rather new method that very few athletes have experienced. The ‘tightrope’ surgery was done by Dr. Thomas Clanton and involved the insertion of screws into the tibia and fibula, bonding
them like one would a pair of two-by-fours with a nail. In tightrope fixation, surgeons slip a high-strength suture through small holes in the bone, fasten it with small metal buttons and then tighten it as you would a zip tie, as described in Sports Illustrated (January of 2019). Current Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson was the first player to undergo the surgery.
Was rated as the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback according to 247Sports, 247Composite, Scout and ESPN. MVP of Nike's 2016 "The Opening," participated in the
U.S. Army All-America Bowl and the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge; named MVP of the 2016 Elite 11 quarterback competition. Finished his career with 8,158 passing yards, the most in Hawai'i high school football history, while adding 84 passing touchdowns; contributed 1,727 rushing yards and 27 scores over his three-year career. Threw for 3,932 yards and 43 touchdowns as a senior in 2016, helping St. Louis and head coach Cal Lee capture the 2016 HHSAA District 1 State Championship.
In 33 career games (22-2 record as a starter), he completed 474-of-684 passes (69.3%) for 7,442 passing yards, 87 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, for a rating of 206.9.
** Why did you end up throwing left-handed as a kid? My dad was the only lefty in our family and he wanted me to be a lefty as well so he switched the way I threw. I didn’t touch the
ball with my right as far as throwing, just threw with my left. I don’t think I would be here if I was a righty.
** What do you think about NCAA three-year rule, do you think you should have been able to come out earlier? Nah, I think the three-year rule is good. It’s different with basketball and baseball, I’d say, only because now you’re getting hit by guys of these nature. These are grown men. They have to feed their families. They’re trying to make a living as well. Gaining as much experience, gaining as much knowledge as you can from your college coaches is probably the best thing.
** Did your dad make you a lefty only for football, or for other sports also? My parents tried to put me in other sports. My dad wanted me to play baseball. I played tee ball for about a
year and a half. I couldn’t do it. I played first base and I played outfield. Well, I played outfield and I was picking weeds. It was too slow for me. I couldn’t do it. They put me at first base
thinking I’d get a lot more action. I was picked weeds again. It just didn’t work for me.
PASSING BY DEPTH:
Two-year starter who earned Second Team All-America honors, led the SEC with 43 touchdown passes and completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,966 yards with six interceptions as a sophomore in 2018. Earned Second Team All-SEC honors and completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 2,840 yards and 33 touchdowns with three interceptions as a junior before a dislocated hip ended his season.
A polished quarterback with a long injury history that includes a serious hip issue from last season. Remains poised under the rush, steps up in the pocket to buy time and naturally looks off the safety. Displays complete command and control of the offense, uses all his weapons and leads the team extremely well. Knows what’s happening on the field, quickly releases the ball and delivers passes that immediately get to the intended target.
Displays timing, puts passes in front of receivers and lets them run to the throw. Goes through progressions and takes the safe underneath outlet if nothing else is available. Keeps his feet active, displays outstanding pocket awareness and senses the rush. Easily moves outside the box to give himself a better view of the field and buys time for receivers. Makes good decisions and does not force the ball to covered targets. Flashes the ability to drop the ball in the bucket and nicely place passes into the receiver’s hands.
Durability has been a major issue throughout his college career. Stands to improve his downfield accuracy and pass placement.
When healthy and on the field, Tagovailoa was a productive quarterback who naturally led the Alabama offense up and down the field. While he lacks pocket stature, he possesses all the other traits and qualities necessary to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The hip injury suffered late last season is a big question mark and will be viewed differently around the league, but from a passing and intangible point of view, Tagovailoa is the top quarterback in this year’s draft.
Tua Tagovailoa has immense arm talent from just about every aspect of his game that you look at. Has very good arm strength, shows good touch on passes that require such, and throws from different platforms and arm angles. From an arm talent standpoint, he has one of the best arms in this class. The only knock I can give him in this category is that when he played hurt (and he did, we have a lot of tapes), his arm strength wasn’t nearly as strong as the top arms in this class. 17/20.
Tua is very accurate with the football. Not only can he throw people open, but Tua can make tight-window throws. His placement is extraordinary. He’s definitely a pinpoint quarterback. Struggled to place the ball through injuries at times. 21/25.
Tua’s pocket presence and awareness are through the roof. He owned the pocket and showed extraordinary ability to work through pressure and maintain his composure. His footwork is good and consistent. 18/20.
Tagovailoa is a very mobile guy when healthy. He still is through injury, but it is slightly limited. His ability to create time outside of the pocket is extraordinary. He buys himself time and is more than an ample runner. Tua throws very well on the move and maintains his accuracy. 19/20.
Football IQ/Field Vision:
Tua sees the field very well and doesn’t often miss receivers. He creates for his receivers at times too, with his extraordinary ability to move defenders with his movements and eyes. He understands the defenses that he plays against and can pick them apart. Tua does well with simple coverages but has shown the ability to be fooled by disguised coverages. He spent the entire 2019 offseason working on adjusting to those coverages. 11/15.
Tua is an extraordinary leader and his personality is infectious. Not many people have been able to calm or temper Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Tua has and it’s incredible to watch. He grew up sleeping with a football. 5/5.
There aren’t many quarterbacks that come out of college as technically sound as Tua has. His father has coached him his entire life and it shows on tape when you see just how many of the nuances that he has already mastered. The arm talent is there, the intangibles are there, and he’s a brilliant play creator. The only real red flag is the injuries that have consistently marred his playing time. If Tua can overcome injuries, he’s going to be a star in the NFL. He’s a top ten prospect in my book.
Injury Rating: (-3)
Ceiling Rating: (4)
Overall Grade: 92
Tua Tagovailoa*, QB, Alabama
Height: 6-0. Weight: 217. Hand: 10.
Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2020): Top-10.
4/21/20: Tagovailoa has received positive medical reports about his injured hip, but because of COVID-19, he wasn't able to work out for NFL teams before the 2020 NFL Draft. He posted videos of him being unrestricted throwing passes and moving around well. All signs reportedly show that he is rehabbing well from his hip injury.
Disaster struck for Tagovailoa and Alabama when he went out for the season due to a dislocated hip suffered against Mississippi State. His injury is rare and not common in football, but the medical prognosis was that Tagovailoa will make a full recovery and resume football activities in 2020.
Earlier in the 2019 season, Tagovailoa suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee and had surgery the day after the injury. Given the hip injury on top of the others injuries he had over his career, there will be major medical and durability concerns for Tagovailoa in the leadup to the 2020 NFL Draft.
In 2019, Tagovailoa completed 71 percent of his passes for 2,840 yards with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. He had two rushing touchdowns as well. Tagovailoa was superb, doing a tremendous job of getting the ball in the hands of his play-makers and making good decisions with impeccable ball security. All season, he threw the ball accurately, showing good field vision, anticipation and patience. He is an aggressive passer who challenges defenses downfield while throwing an accurate deep ball.
8/15/19: Tagovailoa has a quality arm that can make any throw required in the NFL. After his heroic effort to win the 2017 season's National Championship for Alabama, Tagovailoa was even better as a sophomore, completing 69 percent of his passes for 3,966 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also is a good athlete with some running ability, notching five rushing touchdowns in 2018. His mobility and athleticism allow him to buy time and escape sacks. There are also times that Tagovailoa shows an ability to scramble and make throws off platform to move the chains. Tagovailoa looks like a future NFL starter and probably will be a team's young franchise quarterback come training camp of 2020.
Tagovailoa is an aggressive passer who doesn't hesitate to challenge defenses downfield. He throws a very good deep ball, showing a quality arm and an ability to place his passes well downfield. He may not have an elite cannon, but his arm looks good enough. In the pocket, Tagovailoa shows patience and doesn't panic when his first read is covered. With presence and feel, Tagovailoa has the ability to function in a vertical passing offense.
Tagovailoa is a steady passer who generally has good accuracy. He does well for the most part on his short and intermediate passes to hit receivers on the run on slants and crossing routes.
Tagovailoa has some things he can seek to improve, and he definitely has upside to develop as he gains more experience in only his second season as a starter. There are plays on which he could pull the trigger a little faster and anticipate his receivers breaking open rather than waiting an extra second. In the NFL, he won't have as much time to throw as he does at Alabama. His footwork and mechanics could use some development, but he has a very good starting point for a quarterback entering the NFL. Tagovailoa is also left-handed, and his pro receivers will need time to adjust to him as the vast majority are used to a right-handed quarterbacks. Additionally, his offensive line is going to need a very good right tackle because he will be the blind-side protector for Tagovailoa.
Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama
Bleacher Report's Pinpoint-Accurate Quarterback Comparison:
Southpaw Jeff Garcia; Jittery Mark Brunell.
Tua appeared so suddenly in January 2018 and vanished so quickly when he suffered his severe injury last November that he's the quarterback equivalent of a unicorn. Yes, the highlights were mesmerizing, and "Tank for Tua" was a fun rallying cry when the Dolphins were trading office furniture for draft picks. But did we really see what we thought we saw? Is Tua the Drew Brees-caliber talent he looked like over Saturday afternoon beers? Or are we misremembering how much he benefited from Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and the best year-in, year-out program in college football?
Make no mistake:
Tua has an exceptional arm, fine mobility, a knack for breathtaking throws and the demeanor to handle big-game situations. He also has a bad habit of sailing throws and getting antsy in a collapsing pocket. His mechanics are wonky, especially when he's forced to throw on the move. Quite a few of his highlights involve Jeudy adjusting perfectly to a back-shoulder catch or Smith/Ruggs beating an All-SEC cornerback by a stride to get open. And of course, there's both the major hip and back injury last year and recurring ankle injuries before that.
If this all sounds more negative than the typical Tua scouting report, it's because he comes with such exceptionally high risk. Even if he were fully healthy, Tua would likely need a Patrick Mahomes/Lamar Jackson redshirt year to clean up his raw mechanics. Factor in the health concerns, and Tua's bust potential is as high as his boom potential.
Tua could turn out to be the quarterback he appeared to be for about 25 college games. He could also be a meteor who streaked across our Saturdays. The comps above suggest something in between: Garcia and Brunell were both tough, mobile gamers who could rack up wins and numbers when surrounded by Pro Bowl-caliber weapons. The Dolphins would be happy if Tua turns into a quarterback like that.
In any case, we probably won't be able to even guess which direction Tua is headed in until sometime in 2021. This selection will look like either an A++ or something much lower in a few years. Under the circumstances, we’ll hedge our bets, even though the Dolphins chose not to.