Tua Tagovailoa's name has been associated with the Dolphins for months, with Miami making several moves last season that essentially positioned themselves to select the former Alabama quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins, owners of the fifth overall pick, prefer Tagovailoa over Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, according to Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. That does not, however, guarantee that they are going to pick Tua with the pick, as the health concerns surrounding Tagovailoa may convince the Dolphins to take Herbert.
"The Dolphins prefer Tua," Cote said on "The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz" on ESPN. "He's the better quarterback. He's got a clearly higher overall draft grade from Scouts Incorporated, which all the teams look at. Despite his lack of height, Tua's the guy, if you trust his durability and his health, is clearly the pick. He would be, in my mind, the No. 1 overall pick ahead of (Joe) Burrow if not for that hip injury.
"I think the Dolphins want, with all their might, to pick Tua Tagovailoa and need to be talked out of it out of extreme and perhaps undue caution."
On Wednesday, the Herald's Armando Salguero reported the the Dolphins' medical staff gave Tua a passing grade after examining him "extensively" during February's combine. Like Cote, Salguero is reporting that Tua is the favorite to be the Dolphins' pick, according to multiple sources. Salguero added that, while the Dolphins have had serious discussions about not taking a quarterback with the pick, they are not expected to trade up into either the first or second overall pick.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday that Miami is looking into acquiring the third overall pick from the Lions in order to select an offensive tackle. If the Dolphins do avoid the quarterback position with their first pick, they could decide to trade up from No. 18 to address the position as well.
The possibility of Miami taking Herbert over Tua has picked up steam over the past several days. In his Raiders with the 12th overall pick. Prisco said that the Raiders, who already have Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, could be patient with Tua, who is still just five months removed from hip surgery. Cote, for what it's worth, does have Miami taking Tua in his annual first-round mock draft., CBS Sports' Pete Prisco has the Dolphins taking Herbert, who is being regarded as the third-best quarterback prospect in the draft behind Burrow and Tua. Prisco has Tua falling out of the top 10 and to the
Tagovailoa, who was cleared to begin working out back in March, said last month he is "100% healthy" and could play if the 2020 regular season started today. At about the same time, Tua's agent, Chris Cabott of Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, told Yahoo! Sports that doctors have medically cleared him with no restrictions. Tua, who spent time working out in Nashville with former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, has shared his progress on social media, posting workout videos that have included mobility drills. He said that he has sent NFL teams his medical history as well as recent videos of his workouts.
"I have no control over the circumstance or situation," Tua recently told NFL Network. "If I was healthy, if I wasn't, I would have no control. So, the best thing I can do is continue to work. Whatever team decides to choose me, I would be grateful."
Henry Ruggs III, Tua's teammate at Alabama who is also being projected as a first-round pick, didn't bat an eye when asked about Tagovailoa's readiness heading into the draft. On Tuesday, Ruggs told CBS Sports HQ that heto thrive at the next level.
"I definitely have no doubt, zero doubt about anything that he can do," Ruggs said. "I know what he can do. I know he's ready for the challenge. He's ready to step up. He's ready to compete with the best of them. He's ready to compete against the best. That much, I know for sure."
While Tua is saying all the right things, and while the Dolphins reportedly prefer him over Herbert, will those be enough to convince them to take Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick? That question remains unanswered, and it will be a question that will likely remain unanswered until Miami makes their pick on Thursday night.