Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said the organization is "very comfortable" with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, despite his injury history at Alabama.
"Football is a violent game," Grier told reporters Thursday night. "We did a lot of work on him. ... We're very comfortable."
Head coach Brian Flores added: "I'll say my kids are expecting him [to be ready], but we haven't even seen him. Our doctors haven't seen him. We're a long way to go before we can say who's doing what. It's way too early to speculate on this year and how this is going to go."
Tagovailoa's draft stock was brought into question by the injuries he suffered over his final two seasons with the Crimson Tide.
He suffered a high-ankle sprain in both 2018 and 2019. Then his last campaign at Bama came to an early end in mid-November when he suffered hip and nose injuries along with a concussion against Mississippi State.
"I feel 100 percent," Tagovailoa told the NFL Network on April 1. "I feel like if there was a game today, I'd be able to go out and perform the same way I was able to perform in previous years. I feel as mobile as possible. I feel 100 percent."
If he can stay healthy, the 22-year-old Hawaii native has all the tools to become a long-term franchise quarterback for the Dolphins.
Tagovailoa was terrific across three years at Alabama. He completed 69.3 percent of his attempts for 7,442 yards with 87 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions across 32 appearances despite often facing high-end SEC defenses. He added nine rushing scores.
Miami has three other quarterbacks on its roster—Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen and Jake Rudock—so it can afford to take it slow with the 2018 SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
"I'm just trying to prove that this was the right decision for the organization," Tagovailoa told reporters.
The learning curve for rookie quarterbacks this year is further complicated by the lack of on-field work since offseason programs are delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. All meetings in the immediate future will happen in a virtual format.
So the Dolphins could end up using 2020 as a recovery and development year for Tagovailoa. Ensure he's all the way back to full strength after being banged up over his final two years with the Tide and use his rookie campaign as a chance to learn from the Dolphins' veteran QBs.
If he looks completely healthy whenever Miami does return to on-field work then the focus could shift toward how quickly he can take over the starting job.