INDIANAPOLIS — Tua Tagovailoa won’t throw at the NFL combine this week, but we already knew that. Instead, the former Alabama star expects to be cleared by doctors on March 9 and then hold a personal pro day on April 9, exactly two weeks before the 2020 NFL Draft.
“[The medical clearance] allows me to do everything,” Tagovailoa said Tuesday from the Indiana Convention Center. “This rehab process has been gradually getting up as far as workouts with what we’ve been doing. Just strengthening all the parts around the hip — the glute, the hamstring, the quad. Just being able to be ready that once March 9 hits and we’re cleared to go, I’ll be able to do everything.”
Tagovailoa’s comments come after he spent much of Monday getting poked and prodded.
“We went to the hospital at 10 in the morning yesterday. I was the last person to leave,” he said. “We went there at 10 and I was back by about 7:49 p.m. [Monday] night — so right in time for the informal and formal interviews.”
Tagovailoa knows that his draft status is tied directly to his health, which is why this week is so important. But it’s also the first step in a process that dates to last November, when he had surgery to replace his fractured hip. And if all goes well, in just over six weeks’ time, he’ll be throwing for NFL teams.
“The [intention] there is the ball never touches the ground and I think he’s gonna blow away teams in that process,” Tagovailoa’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, told AL.com’s Mike Rodak last month.
“The position is so critical now, and there are a number of teams that you would think would be in the market for quarterbacks,” Steinberg said. “Then it’s just going to be a match. Our hope is not simply that he goes high, but he goes to a team with great ownership, good management, great coaching — that puts him in a position to have a long-term future filled with success.
“If he ends up going somewhere and would have to sit for a year — that’s what Patrick Mahomes did, that’s what Aaron Rodgers did, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer — that’s not the worst thing in the world either.”
The Dolphins are the most popular landing spot for Tagovailoa, in part because they’ve been unofficially #TankingforTua since September, but also because they have three first-round picks, including No. 5 overall, and with Joe Burrow set to go first overall to Cincinnati, Tagovailoa seems like a natural fit for Miami.
But Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said Tuesday that even though the team has three first-rounders (picks No. 5, 18, 26) there have been no discussions about moving up in the draft, partly because the team is still in the evaluation process.
“No, not yet, because we’re so early,” Grier said. “No team has really met many of these guys yet. So I think until everyone goes through the process, as we’ve talked about, that’s when we’ll make determinations on what’s best for our franchise.”
Any plans to move up or down the draft board for Tagovailoa will have everything to do with his health, because that will mean the Dolphins won’t be his only suitor. The Chargers have the sixth pick, the Panthers pick seventh and the Colts are on the clock at No. 13. All three teams, to varying degrees, could be in the quarterback business this offseason.
It’s why, in our latest mock draft we had the Dolphins moving up to No. 3 for Tua — again, assuming he clears every medical hurdle. (In case you’re wondering, we had Miami giving up picks No. 5, No. 26 and a 20201 fourth-rounder for the No. 3 selection.)
Put another way: The Dolphins may not officially be committed to moving up for a quarterback, but that will almost certainly change in the coming weeks, especially if Tagovailoa blows the doors off his pro day.
“It’s a conversation that sometimes it happens before, you talk, and sometimes it might happen when you’re on the clock on draft day,” Grier said when speaking in general terms about aggressively moving around the draft board to address needs. “Again, it’s weighing. You look at what’s available, how many players are at that position and available as you’re looking at your board.”