No question is more fascinating ahead of the 2020 NFL draft than where Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will land. Will he be a top-six selection or will he drop toward the end of the first round?
According to Ben Standig of The Athletic, the Las Vegas Raiders could prevent any major slide from occurring. He noted that if "Tagovailoa drops below six, one connected source believes the Las Vegas Raiders could sniff trade-up scenarios. Jon Gruden likes his quarterbacks, and it's not certain Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota remain on the roster beyond 2020."
If rumors are to be believed, Tagovailoa to the Miami Dolphins at No. 5—once considered a strong possibility—is off the table. Standig reported the Dolphins instead are targeting Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert:
"Several sources made Herbert over Tagovailoa claims to The Athletic in the last 3-4 weeks. All led their decision with the Alabama lefty’s medical concerns. Some acknowledged they had yet to fully process Tagovailoa’s recent individual workout or medical report on his surgically repaired hip.
"While the rationale for this switcheroo primarily focuses on Tagovailoa's lengthy injury history, Herbert's high-floor, along with his arm talent, stands out. 'The safest QB is Herbert,' said a scouting source. 'That includes Joe Burrow.'"
B/R's Matt Miller is hearing the same, writing: "I believe there is a contingent in the Dolphins front office that likes Justin Herbert over Tua Tagovailoa, but there is growing buzz that Herbert is Miami's man."
The Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6 could be a possibility for Tagovailoa, though Peter King of NBC Sports reported earlier in the week that "head coach Anthony Lynn is legitimately bullish on Tyrod Taylor, and maybe for more than one year."
So what happens if Tagovailoa drops out of the top six? His fall could be precipitous. Maybe the Raiders end that fall at No. 12 or No. 19—and while Jacksonville has Gardner Minshew II, they could consider him at No. 9 or No. 20—but we could see a scenario in which he falls all the way to New England at No. 23, where he'd likely be a plug-and-play starter (and in the unenviable position of replacing an NFL legend in Tom Brady).
At that selection, Tagovailoa's upside likely outweighs his significant injury concerns, especially for a New England team that doesn't appear to have a franchise quarterback at the moment (with all apologies to Jarrett Stidham).
All eyes will be on Tagovailoa Thursday night. If he slides, it will be the main storyline of the first night of the draft.