By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa announced in a press conference on Monday that he's entering the 2020 NFL Draft, despite coming off major hip surgery. Before suffering a season-ending hip injury in November, Tagovailoa was almost certainly going to be one of the first players off the board for a team in need of a franchise QB.
Tagovailoa's decision to forego his senior season and become an NFL rookie in 2020 comes with inherent risk. But he has demonstrated in the past that he's cognizant of the financial impact of slipping in the first round of the draft. So to declare for the draft two weeks before the deadline shows confidence that he will be drafted early.
“If I leave [this year], I think the risk is a little higher," Tagovailoa told the Tuscaloosa News in December. That risk would be how far do I drop in the draft. To me, it’s 50-50 between going in the first round and possibly going in the second round. If I go somewhere from first to around 24th, the money will be set.
"But let’s say — and I am just picking a number — that I go to the 31st pick. That would be about 9 million dollars. That’s a lot of money, an amount of money I’ve never had before, but it’s not high first-round money and you can never make that money up. They say you can (make it up) on your next contract but money lost is money lost to me."
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ESPN's Adam Schefter reported after Tagovailoa's successful hip surgery that he won't resume athletic activity until February and will resume throwing in the spring. This means that Tagovailoa would need Wolverine-like healing abilities in order to participate in February's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Alabama's Pro Day in March could be a possibility.
Assuming Tagovailoa ends up falling to the second half of the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, that's where the Patriots could become a player for him. They're locked into the No. 23 overall pick in the first round after the results of Sunday's Wild Card round. But they may still need to move up if they intend to target him.
Multiple factors converge to make Tagovailoa a possibility for the Patriots in April, assuming he doesn't end up being one of the very first selections. The future is uncertain with Tom Brady and the Tua speculation would greatly intensify if Brady ends up retiring or playing elsewhere in March. Bill Belichick and Alabama head coach's Nick Saban's relationship is well-established.
But there are still a whole mess o' teams ahead of the Patriots in the first round that could end up making Tagovailoa their QB of the future anyway. Assuming the Bengals go with LSU's Joe Burrow at No. 1, that includes the Dolphins at No. 5, the Chargers at No. 6, the Panthers at No. 7, the Jaguars at No. 9, the Colts at No. 13, the Buccaneers at No. 14, and the Broncos at No. 15.
If Brady ultimately re-signs with the Patriots, that would make Tagovailoa significantly less likely for the Pats. But no matter where he ends up he remains the kind of prospect that could alter the landscape of the NFL when he starts playing.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].