If Tua Tagovailoa had stayed healthy in his Alabama career, he would have been one of the most touted QB prospects to enter the NFL in years. Alas, he couldn’t stay healthy and slipped to the fifth pick in this year’s draft by Miami. Here are Tua’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Dolphins’ over/under win total.
Miami selected Tagovailoa with the fifth pick of April’s draft. Tua throws lefty but is otherwise right-handed.
Of course, Tua burst onto the national scene as a freshman in 2017 when he rallied Alabama past Georgia in overtime in a thrilling national championship game. Entered at quarterback in the second half for an ineffective Jalen Hurts and earned Offensive MVP honors for his efforts. He finished 14-of-24 with three touchdowns and one interception and accumulated 166 yards through the air to go with his 27 yards rushing on 12 attempts. Tua hit DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard touchdown strike on the final play of the game.
The following season, Tua replaced Hurts as the full-time starter and was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Maxwell Award winner plus first-team All-American, and SEC Offensive Player of the Year. He set the Alabama single-season passing touchdowns record with 43 across the Tide’s 15 games and the school record for passing yards in a season at 3,966. He guided the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense at 45.6 points per game and led the country with a 199.4 passer efficiency rating. Tua’s 48 total TDs led the SEC and he totaled 4,156 yards of total offense, good for second in the SEC and top-10 nationally, despite not playing a majority of the second halves in the Tide’s 15 contests.
Last season, Tua entered as the Heisman favorite but suffered a season-ending injury in mid-November at Mississippi State. He threw for 33 touchdowns as a junior to tie for eighth among all FBS quarterbacks in the week following his injury. He completed 71.4 percent of his passes on 180-of-252, a percentage that was fifth in the country. Tua totaled 2,840 yards passing to rank 13th among NCAA signal-callers prior to his season-ending injury.
Tagovailoa concluded his career as the Crimson Tide’s career touchdown responsibility leader with 96 (87 passing, nine rushing) and first on the Alabama career passing touchdowns list with 87, eclipsing AJ McCarron’s previous mark of 77. Tua holds NCAA career records of passing yards per attempt (10.9), adjusted passing yards per attempt (12.7), passing efficiency rating (199.4) and total yards per play (9.8).
Tagovailoa was invited to the NFL Combine but did not participate in any drills due to him not being medically cleared at the time following major hip surgery but had had planned to participate at his pro day in April before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alabama leaned on run-pass options to utilize Tagovailoa’s decision making and athletic ability, but he’ll need to regain his pre-surgery maneuverability to win in the same ways at the next level. Tagovailoa is on the small side (6-foot, 217 pounds) but is a terrific decision-maker with excellent pocket presence and accuracy.
The Fins were always linked to Tua and grabbed him at No. 5 overall — ultimately, they resisted trading up, waited it out and landed him. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross attended multiple Alabama games during the 2019 season.
“He fit a lot of the criteria that we talk about at the quarterback position. Good player, good person, leadership qualities,” Fins coach Brian Flores said. “We’re very happy with this pick. We felt very comfortable that he would be a good fit here.”
As his college number 13 is retired by the Dolphins in honor of Dan Marino, Tagovailoa switched to No. 1 to begin his NFL career. The Dolphins are not opposed to playing Tagovailoa as a rookie but may open the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter. With five years of experience with OC Chan Gailey and familiarity with the cast of supporting players around him, though, it’s hard to imagine Fitzpatrick on the in Week 1. It doesn’t help Tagovailoa can’t do any on-field work with Miami’s coaching staff because of the lack of an offseason program.