Most around the NFL believe that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s floor in the 2020 NFL draft is the Miami Dolphins’ No. 5 pick.
Miami’s infatuation with Tagovailoa is the worst kept secret around the league.
But it’s likely that the Detroit Lions will decide where the former Alabama standout, who missed most of this past season with an ankle and then a hip injury, will play in the NFL.
There will be plenty of teams weighing whether they want the often-injured quarterback bad enough to leapfrog Miami, and Lions general manager Bob Quinn will seemingly be the gatekeeper.
That was the buzz in Mobile among NFL executives, coaches and scouts during the Senior Bowl’s week of practices.
Even though Bengals coach Zac Taylor said nothing is decided, Cincinnati will likely go the safe and smart route and use the No 1 pick to select on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner who just had the best single season in the history of college football.
With the No. 2 pick the Washington Redskins will likely select Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young, who is viewed as the best overall talent in the draft.
That leaves pick No. 3, which is owned by Detroit, as the hot spot.
Based on the talk at the Senior Bowl, don’t rule out the Lions trading Matthew Stafford this offseason to a team willing to offer up a first-round pick, and selecting Tagovailoa.
That’s likely a long shot considering how hot the seats their GM and coach, Matt Patricia, are sitting on have gotten following two straight losing campaigns, but it’s certainly something that needs to be monitored.
A major factor in the equation is whether Stafford wants to continue playing for Patricia, which some in the NFL are wondering about.
Based on the Senior Bowl chatter, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr is also available for first-round pick. This comes after rumors of him being available last year too.
We’ll know more on Stafford and Carr’s fate before this spring’s draft because if the Lions and Raiders move on from their veteran quarterbacks they’ll do so before, or during free agency.
That means the picture will get clearer on Tagovailoa before draft week arrives. Until then, the Dolphins better make sure they have a contingency plan.
That’s why Miami’s front office and coaching staff attending the Senior Bowl was important.
I attended the 2020 Senior Bowl hoping to fall in love with a quarterback like I’d done in past years. I wasn’t a fan of Justin Herbert while watching his games last season, but the Oregon quarterback won me over with his size and arm strength.
Herbert’s a big boy, 6-foot-6, 237 pounds, and while he does have some accuracy concerns, they can be fixed with coaching. He reminds me a lot of Joe Flacco, who led the Baltimore Ravens to a championship, and that’s good enough.
Herbert’s definitely a first-round talent, and probably a top-10 pick because some organization will believe they can fix his issues.
That type of mentality fuels the draft when it comes to quarterback prospects.
Speaking of quarterbacks that need fixing, Utah State Jordan Love fits into that category.
He struggled on Day 1 of the Senior Bowl, which is understandable. He was decent on Day 2, but during Day 3 Love lit the practice up and was on fire during the red-zone work.
Love’s got a big arm, and throws at different arm angles, which is enticing. He’s athletic, which explains the constant comparison to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But he needs to work on his accuracy, and teams must get past his lackluster senior season.
However, his skill set indicates he can become an elite quarterback, so expect Love to be taken in the first round unless an injury, or troublesome character concern surfaces.
Colin Kaepernick is a more realistic comparison for Love than Mahomes, and I’ll take that.
Love will likely need to sit and watch for a season, but he’s definitely a quarterback who should be in Miami’s fallback plan if the Dolphins get leapfrogged and lose a chance at Tagovailoa because he fits into the description of the quarterback new Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is looking for.
©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)