Less than five months later, without throwing a pass, the dynamic former Alabama quarterback has done everything he needed to do in order to convince the football world that he still deserves that standing.
The icing on Tagovailoa's cake came this week when a voluntary medical evaluation facilitated by the NFL combine produced "overwhelmingly positive" results, his representatives told ESPN and NFL Network.
"All 32 team doctors and trainers were able to provide input on what exams they wanted to see conducted, and a comprehensive exam was performed," tweeted NFL Network's Ian Rapoport of the evaluation. "The results were shared with all 32 teams. At this point, Tua has fulfilled all medical obligations, per his reps."
That came just a couple of weeks after Tagovailoa posted videos on Instagram that showed him dropping back, moving laterally and delivering passes in a smooth fashion. In fact, it was just the latest development in a continuous string of encouraging news regarding the 22-year-old's hip, which was dislocated and then operated on in November.
It wasn't even the first time we heard the phrase "overwhelmingly positive" to describe a check on said hip.
Rapoport tweeted during the combine: "Following two days of medical testing ... Tagovailoa received overwhelmingly positive reports on his dislocated hip from teams who examined him, sources say. The MRIs were as clean as hoped, fracture is healed, there is no loss of blood flow."
And earlier that month, Rapoport reported that the results of his three-month CT scan were "as positive as possible."
Such much positivity!
"I feel like if I had to go out there and perform the same way I did my sophomore year and my junior year, being 100 percent healthy, I feel like I'd be able to go out there and do that," Tagovailoa said on ESPN this week.
There should be no doubt that the 2018 Heisman Trophy runner-up should be chosen at or near the top of this month's draft.
Is it unfortunate that he's coming off a major injury and could be labeled injury-prone? Sure, but his tape speaks for itself. He threw 87 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions in three seasons in the best conference in college football and was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2018.
He's a tremendously accurate passer with a lightning-quick release. He's a leader, he's consistently come through in the clutch, and he's got the athleticism, the intellect and the poise to become a franchise quarterback at the NFL level.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. suggested in February that "if the medical staff clears him," the Washington Redskins should take Tagovailoa instead of Ohio State edge defender Chase Young with the second overall pick. Meanwhile, Todd McShay said on ESPN during the combine that, if promised 10 years of health for both, he'd take Tagovailoa over presumed top pick Joe Burrow.
The latter scenario still appears unlikely, but if the new regime in Washington isn't convinced that 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins is the answer under center, they should strongly consider taking Tagovailoa over Young or anyone else.
Using first-round picks on quarterbacks in back-to-back years is far from ideal, but it worked out well for the Arizona Cardinals, who realized 2018 No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen wasn't the solution and used the 2019 first overall selection on eventual Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray.
Alternatively, the trade market should be strong for that second selection.
A general manager told Mike Sando of The Athletic in March that he believes the Detroit Lions will sell off the No. 3 pick to the highest bidder, which could create a bidding war between quarterback-needy teams with top-10 picks like the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
It's unlikely the Redskins and Lions would both hold on to their top-three picks unless at least one selects a quarterback.
Aside from Young, the only other player widely considered to have a shot at being a top-three pick is former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah. But it's been 23 years since a defensive back was last selected that high. While Okudah is viewed as one of the best cornerback prospects in years, corners—and, to a lesser extent, pass-rushers—just don't impact games and organizations like quarterbacks do.
Those guys are a lot less likely to carry a franchise to glory simply because they aren't signal-callers.
So now that it's become crystal clear that Tagovailoa is healthy, look for somebody to swing the bat—early.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter. Or don't. It's entirely your choice.