The draft is just days away, and one of the biggest questions heading into Thursday is where quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will land. The Alabama quarterback is a highly touted prospect, but some wonder if his injury history will keep teams from selecting him too early.
Nick Saban, Tua's coach at Alabama, offered his two cents, endorsing his former quarterback while offering a warning to teams that are thinking about passing on him due to health concerns. When asked about Tagovailoa by The Wall Street Journal, Saban recalled his own experience as coach of the Miami Dolphins, saying that teams that are too scared to draft Tua could regret it like he regrets passing on Drew Brees.
“We failed Drew Brees on the physical,” Saban said. “That’s why he’s not Miami’s quarterback.”
Brees was a free agent following the 2005 season, but he was considered a risky signing since he tore his labrum in his last game with the Chargers. The Dolphins were widely considered the favorites to sign Brees, but they backed off and allowed the Saints to grab him instead.
It's a mistake that still stings for Dolphins fans, as Brees went on to win a Super Bowl for the Saints and remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league. According to Saban, teams that pass on Tua may face a similar fate.
“The sky’s the limit,” Saban said in regard to Tagovailoa's potential. “I don’t think any of the questions with Tua have to do with his ability to throw the ball and be effective.”
Could Saban be sending a message about his former quarterback to his former NFL team? It's possible, as the Dolphins are one of the teams that have been most heavily linked to Tua. Miami could certainly use a quarterback, and with the fifth pick in the draft, many expect the Fins to have the chance to take the second quarterback off the board after the Bengals select Joe Burrow.
However, there have been reports that the Dolphins prefer Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert to Tua, in large part due to Tagovailoa's injury history, including a dislocated hip that caused him to miss the majority of his final college season. If the Dolphins end up passing on the Alabama signal-caller, could it be another quarterback regret that haunts them for years to come? Saban certainly thinks so.
Of course, the Dolphins are far from the only team that could grab Tua early. The Chargers, who pick immediately after Miami, have also been frequently linked to the Alabama quarterback. If Tua does slide out of the top 10, teams like the Raiders or even the Patriots could be logical fits.