Nick Saban Reveals Advice He Gave Tua Tagovailoa Ahead of 2020 NFL Draft

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2020

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide converses with Tua Tagovailoa #13 against the New Mexico State Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama coach Nick Saban explained his advice to Tua Tagovailoa ahead of the 2020 NFL draft on SportsCenter Monday:

"I think staying focused and, you know, controlling the things you can control. You can't control what everybody is saying, you can't control what everybody thinks. But, you can control your rehab. You can control the things that the medical staff is telling you to do day in and day out. And, you know, be smart, be upfront you. The last advice that I gave him was, you know, you're not going to be able to do a medical recheck, so make sure you get rechecked and send it to all of the teams so at least they're getting that information from somebody that they have faith, trust and confidence in. I think he's done a good job of managing this and a good job in handling this. He's worked really hard on his rehab and I do think he's in a position where he's ready to start playing football again."

The quarterback, who had spent the past three years playing under Saban, saw his 2019 campaign end early because of a dislocated hip. Though he's been working his way back to full strength, the NFL's restrictions due to the coronavirus will prevent any team doctors from getting an in-person look at the quarterback prospect. 

Saban also broke down what makes Tagovailoa a high-level talent on Detail:

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The quarterback had 2,840 passing yards and 33 touchdowns in just nine games before his season-ending injury.

"I think Tua is going to be a great NFL QB because he's very instinctive, great hands and great touch making him a very accurate thrower," Saban added on SportsCenter, via Safid Deen of the Sun-Sentinel. "At all levels short, intermediate and drive the ball and he can throw deep. He's athletic enough to avoid the rush and is smart enough to protect himself with his protections. As an NFL QB I think he'll do an outstanding job."

The talent on the field is rarely disputed when it comes to Tagovailoa, but there are legitimate concerns about his health.

Michael Lombardi reported last week on the GM Shuffle podcast that "at least one team failed the physical on Tua" and teams are concerned because of problems with his hip, ankle and wrist, calling the quarterback "brittle" (h/t Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald).

Saban believes the injuries are simply due to Tagovailoa's attempts to extend plays.

"He does not give up on a play and it's because he's a great competitor," the coach said Monday. "You certainly don't want to inhibit that spirit in any way shape or form, but there's also a time to be smart. Both ankle injuries and the hip injury that he got this year were all because he tried to make a play when the play had broken down."

This could be fixable if the quarterback learns to throw the ball away more often, as Saban explained.

In the meantime, the prospect has tried to help his draft stock by releasing videos of him throwing.

In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller predicted the Miami Dolphins would select Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick.