The Cincinnati Bengals own the first overall pick in the NFL draft, and while it seems like a forgone conclusion that Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow will be the selection, a lot can happen between now and the draft.
There will be another franchise quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, as Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
Tagovailoa was once seen as the unanimous first overall pick before the season started. Tank for Tua dominated social media and for good reason. In 2018 he scored 48 total touchdowns with only six interceptions. He completed 69 percent of his throws and helped lead Alabama to a National Championship.
2019 started off great for Tagovailoa as well. He had 35 total touchdowns in nine games with only three interceptions. He was still showing off all the abilities that made him look like one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely with a dislocated hip on his right side, which he received treatment for.
The injury really cemented his place in the 2020 class of quarterbacks as he likely wouldn’t be able to fully participate to start his rookie season if he could play at all. He was seen walking with crutches at Alabama’s recent bowl game on New Year’s Day, but that isn’t something to read too much into at the moment.
This injury adds on to Tagovailoa’s injury history which includes an ankle injury to both of his ankles. It is hard to say how much that will impact how NFL teams view him as a prospect given the advancements in surgery over the seasons. The reason he will still likely be the second or third quarterback off the board is simply because he is just that good of a quarterback when healthy. It is honestly just a testament to how great of a prospect he is that he will still likely be picked that highly even with the injury.
What are the odds Tagovailoa ends up as a Bengal? Well unless something happens to Burrow during the draft process or Cincinnati moves back in the draft for whatever reason, it is safe to say slim to none. If Tagovailoa was entering this process fully healthy then we may be having a more even discussion, but it ends up being pretty simple. The Bengals just went 2-14, and they need a guy who can get fans in the seats right away. Having a rookie quarterback sit on the bench for possibly a full season won’t do that. The fact the Burrow is just as talented in his own right makes the decision that much easier for Cincinnati.
There is another timeline where this decision creates a pretty heated debate between Burrow and Tagovailoa at first overall, but the injury gives the Bengals an easy out. It is still going to be exciting to see what the Alabama product can do in the NFL whenever he is able to get healthy.