I think this is my favorite analysis of Tua Tagovailoa, from one of my favorite analysts, Dan Orlovsky: “It’s going to take a courageous general manager to draft him, and it’s going to take a courageous general manager to pass on him.” When Orlovsky told me that, I immediately thought of two teams: Detroit, picking third, and Miami, picking fifth. How can Tagovailoa get past Miami—that’s my first thought.
But think if you’re Detroit. Matthew Stafford’s been the quarterback there 11 seasons. He’s never won a playoff game, and the Lions are 13 under .500 in games he starts, and he’s entering his age-32 season. Sometimes, even when something’s not your fault, it might be time to wipe the slate clean. If the Lions draft Tua and keep Stafford this year, then cut Stafford in 2021, it’s a $19-million cap hit (when the cap will likely be well over $200 million the first year of the new CBA, assuming no work stoppage), per Over The Cap. The Lions, at minimum, should do very serious homework on the Alabama QB coming back from his hip injury. I’d be concerned with two high ankle sprains and the hip surgery in the span of 13 months. That’s something you’d better be sure of if you pick him. But if you get past that, how do you pass on him, even with a decent QB situation on your team?
As I’ve said before, taking Tua, if the medicals check out, would take courage and imagination. The Lions, historically, have neither. And if they pass on him, that will be your sign that he’s going to be a 12-year starter and perennial Pro-Bowler.