Tua Is An Absolute Stud

Love him.

Jim Rome
April 14, 2020 - 11:54 am
Tua Tagovailoa

USA Today

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There was a time when Tua Tagovailoa was a lock to be the first pick in the draft. Teams were Tanking For Tua. Then along came Joe Burrow. And then this happened on November 16th against Mississippi State.

Tua rolling to his left, trying to extend the play, two defenders fell on him as he fell on his knee. And the damage was brutal: dislocated hip, fractured posterior wall, broken nose, and a concussion. Jeff Allen, Alabama’s associate athletic director for sports medicine, describe Tua’s facial bleeding "as severe and profuse as I’ve seen."

That sounds more like a FIERY, VIOLENT, CAR WRECK, than a football play.

Days later, he has surgery in Houston, but the narrative was already being written. He’s injury prone. What will his hip be like? Can you build a team around him? Will he ever get back to looking like the guy who made being a quarterback look so easy?

And he goes from being a lock at number one to likely the second quarterback off the board. And now, as we get closer to the draft, there is more and more talk that Justin Herbert might’ve jumped him and he might be the third quarterback off the board. 

Enter Trent Dilfer, who has been working with Tua in preparation for the draft. And while it might seem complicated to help a quarterback who’s coming back from a dislocated hip and fractured posterior wall, Dilfer told Albert Breer his approach is simple: “I tried not to be an idiot.”

Okay, there’s a little more to it than that. If all you had to do was just not be an idiot, a lot of guys could’ve handled that gig.

And you may have seen that quote from Dilfer that Tua throws it better than Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino. That got a lot of people’s attention and a lot of people freaking out.

Dilfer tweeted that’s not exactly what he said. “I said he throws it “as well as AR and DM” I never said better (that would be crazy talk). I said he throws it BETTER than AR did at THIS STAGE of their development.”

That is still high praise. Seriously high praise. Just being in the same neighborhood as Rodgers and Marino is high praise, but Dilfer is saying he throws it as well as they did and better than Rodgers did at this stage of his development. And Dilfer isn’t the kind of guy to throw that around lightly.

As Dilfer told Breer, his plan wasn’t just about getting Tua to make headlines for a few days or weeks. It’s about Tua making headlines for years.

“We’re not getting you ready for a pro day, we’re not getting you ready for combine, we’re not getting you ready for workouts, for visits. We’re getting you ready for hopefully a 15-year Hall of Fame career. Well, for that to happen, I gotta hand you over to a team so they can do their work with you, and you’re a better product for them. That’s always been the goal. It was a value add, a bonus, that we were able to do what we did [Thursday].”

Thursday was the workout that Tua did that showed up online the next day. The crowning moment of the workout came at the end when Tua showed off his arm strength by taking a seven step drop, making a movement to avoid a rusher, and then throw to a receiver 47 yards away without a crow hop.

As Dilfer said: “All he could do was pick up his front foot and move it to the right. Now, we’re talking rare air. There’s a very small group of the population that could make this throw.”

And it’s not just Dilfer who’s raving about Tua. Ken Whisenhunt, who was brought in to do film work with Tua a few times per week ahead of the combine, saw something he liked too.

“It was the recall not just with his players, but the opponent too. It’d be, ‘Yeah, I’d say 18 was LSU’s best player, because he could rush, but you see him drop here where he’d get all the way underneath the corner route.’ He has a good feel for what’s going on, like, ‘That’s what I’m seeing.’ And the situational stuff, he’s got recall where, this was the critical play, this what happened, and here’s why.”

And of course you can knock this by saying that Dilfer and Whisenhunt are there to hype their guy. Of course they are going to be saying great things about him. That’s their job. And right now, that job is to reverse some of the negative hype about Tua and crank his market back up again.

And you’d be right to say it. 

But I’m here to announce that I am boarding the Tua Train. I’m not just buying a ticket, I’m selling the tickets and I’m shoveling coal into the engine. I’m a believer in Tua. I’ve been that since he showed up in the second half of the national championship game as a freshman.

And won the whole damn thing on this play.

And the most impressive part of that play wasn’t that play. It was the fact that he took an ill-advised sack on the play before it that cost them 16 yards in overtime. And he bounced right back with the coldest throw ever.

Yes, there are concerns about coming back from injury again and the fact that he had such a talent receiving corps at Alabama that he never really had to throw into tight windows. You could make the argument that there are a bunch of teams where he could be drafted and actually have a less talented receiving corps that what he had in Tuscaloosa.

And there are some of the tweaks that need to come when you have a left handed quarterback.

But it says here that if he goes to the right spot, with the right coach, and the right training staff that brings him along in the right way, you are looking at an absolute stud.

Injuries can happen. As Tua himself said on Instagram Live: "I'm not playing badminton. I'm not on the swim team. [Football] is a physical sport. You're gonna get hurt. That just comes with it.”

It does come with it. But if you draft Tua, the other things that come with him are incredible field vision, precision passing, and an ability to make things look easy. Sure it’s a risk…but it’s a risk I’d be willing to pay: I’m betting on this guy’s athleticism, grit and football IQ. It says here he’s doing everything humanly possible to come back and he will.