Mel Kiper: Dolphins Prefer Justin Herbert to Tua Tagovailoa, 'Tide Has Turned'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2020

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert passes against Wisconsin during first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in Pasadena, Calif. Herbert is a likely first-round pick in the NFL draft Thursday, April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins reportedly favor Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert over Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL draft.

According to ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., the "tide has turned" with regard to how the Dolphins view the quarterbacks in the draft and there is "a lot of buzz" about Miami preferring Herbert to Tagovailoa.

Kiper noted that Herbert may be the target for Miami with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, but he also cautioned that the information he has heard could potentially be a smokescreen to throw other teams off the Dolphins' scent.

Provided the the Cincinnati Bengals take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick and then no teams trade ahead of them, the Dolphins will have their pick of Herbert, Tagovailoa and Utah State's Jordan Love when it comes to quarterbacks expected to go in the first round.

The Dolphins own three first-round picks and have many holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but it would be quite surprising if they don't go for a quarterback first. Miami does have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and third-year man Josh Rosen on the roster, but neither appear to be a long-term answer under center.

Tua was the top candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL draft when the 2019 season began, but durability concerns changed that. Tagovailoa underwent ankle procedures in both 2018 and 2019, and his 2019 season ended prematurely after hip surgery.

Although Tua appeared in just nine games last season, he still completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. Had he not gotten hurt, Tagovailoa likely would have been a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second consecutive year.

Tua finished second to then-Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in the 2018 Heisman Trophy voting after completing 69.0 percent of his attempts for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Herbert's numbers at Oregon weren't quite as dazzling and he never led the Ducks to a national championship like Tua did with the Crimson Tide, but he was a consistent performer and brings a great deal of playing experience to the next level.

He saw significant playing time in all four of his years at Oregon and played his best as a senior, completing 66.8 percent of his throws for 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns and six picks. Herbert also led Oregon to a Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl win.

While Herbert may not have quite the same ceiling as Tua, he is far more durable and has more of a prototypical NFL quarterback body at 6'6" and 236 pounds compared to Tagovailoa's 6'0" and 217 pounds.

Regardless of which quarterback the Dolphins take, the other may not have to wait much longer since the Los Angeles Chargers are prime candidates to take the best signal-caller remaining with the No. 6 overall pick.