Personally, I’ve heard a good deal about the Dolphins in these discussions. Miami has been at the forefront of a lot of Tua talk. Some have suggested that Tua’s brother, Taulia (a current Alabama QB), could transfer to the University of Miami should Tua be drafted by the South Florida franchise.
The situation just isn’t that simple.
There are other suitors, and the Dolphins should be pretty worried that if they don’t take him with the 5th pick, he won’t be there. There are three other teams that, in my mind, could see Tua fitting into their current plans.
Tua Tagovailoa Destination: Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford’s future has been in question as of late. And, assuming the Bengals and Redskins have their minds set on Burrow and Young, the Lions could have first dibs on the Crimson Tide quarterback.
Now, the Lions have a good deal of issues they could confront with this high of a pick. They could trade down to a team that wants Tua more (read on), but let’s entertain them keeping their pick for the moment.
The Lions most serious concern could be at Linebacker. Isaiah Simmons of Clemson could easily fit the bill for them here. However, is Simmons really a third-pick talent? Maybe so. But current rankings don’t have him there. So trading down, and taking him later in the top 10, could be an option.
Tua Tagovailoa Destination: Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers is a free agent. And Tyrod Taylor likely isn’t a part of their long term plans under center. However, they’re currently at sixth in the draft order and are likely feeling pretty bad about their chances of landing Tua Tagovailoa with Miami sitting in front of them. Is Tua what they need?
Their largest point of concern is likely their interior offensive line. That’ll in all likelihood be addressed later in the draft. In my mind, there’s not an interior offensive lineman ranked in the top 40 of this draft class overall. So they could easily be thinking Tua.
They could be thinking Derrick Brown of Auburn as well, and that’s a valid thought to have. This team, as we saw last season, can be a contender when functioning and healthy. Maybe Rivers comes back, and they go with a defensive player to bolster their efforts on that end. Jeffrey Okudah could potentially work as well, but I’m not entirely sure they’d go for a defensive back considering how strong that group is for them as a whole already.
Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so if the Chargers trade up to snatch Tua from Miami.
Tua Tagovailoa Destination: Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton and Matt Rhule are the question marks as of now. How does Rhule want to start his tenure? With a new quarterback to match his own novelty at the position, or will they try to keep Cam? These are questions that only folks in their front office will be able to answer over time.
I will say that Tagovailoa is unlikely to even fall to Carolina. If he has a terrible medical then it’s possible. If he does fall to Carolina, they may heavily consider taking him. Their quarterback room could look rough should Cam walk. Will Grier and Kyle Allen may not help Rhule sleep at night. Let’s assess positional needs that may sway them from taking a signal-caller.
This defense could be in a lot of trouble. They allowed the fourth-most rushing yards per game. I believe about half of their defensive linemen are unrestricted free agents this coming offseason. That’s trouble.
To make matters worse, three of their defensive backs are unrestricted free agents. Now, they won’t lose everyone. But it’s fair to say that they won’t keep everyone either.
So in that sense, I believe the Panthers actually have several shared concerns with the Chargers. If LA takes Derrick Brown, Carolina may be upset about that. He fills their need on the line, plus helps with that rush defense.
If the Chargers take Jeffrey Okudah, the Panthers may be upset about that too. While I’m deeming that pretty unlikely that LA takes Okudah, it’s possible. The Panthers may not be able to retain all those free agent defensive backs.
All those defensive needs are great, but if Rhule wants to bring in a fresh quarterback that he can develop over his potential seven (!) years at the helm, the rest of the front office may abide. Time will tell.
One thing I feel pretty certain about is that if Tua Tagovailoa has a good medical report prior to the draft, he’ll go top 10. It’s just a matter of where and when.