Mel Kiper thinks former Alabama Crimson Tide star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the “wild card” of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Kiper–who has been one of ESPN’s top draft analysts for over two decades–said there are unknowns surrounding Tua Tagovailoa when it comes to his progression from a dislocated hip injury that ended his 2019 season. Kiper also noted Tua’s injury history at Alabama raises questions about his durability in the NFL (via Garrett Stepien of 247 Sports):
“Huge wild card because of not just the injury, but how he’s progressing, which, thankfully, looks like it’s going along very well now, but not the firsthand knowledge that teams (do or do not) have with Tua and the fact that you don’t know whether he’d be durable once he’s in the National Football League,” Kiper said. “That was not the case at Alabama with those three lower-extremity injuries. Some think it was maybe more injuries than just those three.
“So I think when you look at Tua, you don’t know what’s going to happen there. We won’t have an answer to that until he’s starting at quarterback in the National Football League. That’s why he’s kind of a mystery in that first round.”
Tua Tagovailoa has said he is fully recovered from the hip injury, and he took to Twitter towards the end of March to showcase some of his movement during a throwing drill.
Tua dominated when healthy last season, throwing for close to 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns (against just three interceptions) in nine games. He has been confident about his status, which is only fitting given the draft is just a few weeks away.
Teams like the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers still figure to look at quarterbacks with their first-round picks, which might mean Tua is off the board early in spite of the durability concerns.