In a few hours, all of the rampant Tua Tagovailoa speculation will be over. All week, debate has raged on over whether the talented Alabama quarterback's troubling injury history would cause him to slide down NFL Draft boards, or if he'd be a top pick at the end of the day.
Joe Burrow is set to be the No. 1 pick to the Cincinnati Bengals. That much remains pretty certain. Beyond that, it is unclear whether Oregon's Justin Herbert or Tua will be the second quarterback off the board, and where they will go.
The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers have needs at quarterback with the Nos. 5 and 6 picks in tonight's first round, respectively. The Dolphins have been attached to Tua for about a year now, though the team has also reportedly been interested in everything from Herbert, to one of the four first-round offensive tackle prospects, to trading up to No. 3 or back later in the draft to accumulate picks.
Ultimately, ESPN's Adam Schefter seems to think that is all a smokescreen. This morning, he appeared on Get Up! to discuss where Tua Tagovailoa will wind up in tonight's draft. He still thinks the Dolphins and Chargers are the most likely spots tonight. Via Saturday Down South:
“I still think, as I said this week, five and six are the most likely landing spots. I don’t believe he makes it out of the top 10,” Schefter said on Thursday during an appearance on ESPN program Get Up. “I don’t believe he makes it passed six tonight, because between five and six, those two teams have quarterback needs, quarterback questions, and I think they like Tua.
“So to me, one of them winds up taking him tonight. I don’t know which one finally will, but I think one of them will tonight and Tua will wind up playing, or being drafted in the top six picks tonight, somewhere along the way.”
Had Tua not suffered the hip injury this season, it is far more likely that he'd be competing with Burrow for the No. 1 pick.
The Alabama quarterback finishes his college career as one of the most efficient quarterbacks of all time. As The Ringer's Rodger Sherman wrote earlier this month, Tagovailoa has the highest career passer efficiency rating in college football history at 199.4. That puts him almost 20 points ahead of No. 2 Kyler Murray, last year's No. 1 pick. The No. 3, 4, and 6 players on that list are all No. 1, or soon to be No. 1, picks as well: Sam Bradford, Baker Mayfield, and Joe Burrow. (2018 first rounder Dwayne Haskins is No. 5).
His adjusted yards per attempt—10.9—is the best in college football history. His touchdown percentage—a startling 12.72-percent—is 2.35-percent higher than any other quarterback ever.
The injury concerns are very real, but as Nick Saban said recently, passing on Tua could be passing on an all-time great. Those numbers make him worth the top five or six pick risk.