Could Tua Tagovailoa and the Raiders' draft fortunes be (somewhat) tied together? While the Silver and Black won't be selecting the Alabama star in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa's health could determine how the Raiders use the No. 12 overall pick.
Tagovailoa has been one of the draft's biggest question marks since the moment he dislocated his hip and suffered a fracture of the posterior wall against Mississippi State in November.
How would he heal? What was the timetable for his recovery? Would he be ready to go for the 2020 NFL season? The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of all pre-draft visits have further clouded the Alabama quarterback's draft fortunes. While Tagovailoa reportedly received clean medical information on his hip after the NFL Scouting Combine, with teams unable to have their doctors check him out and work him out themselves, there was a possibility he could start to slip.
Tagovailoa conducted his own pro day and sent the film to NFL teams. ESPN's Chris Mortensen received the film and tweeted it out for the masses to dissect.
Here's Tua's Pro Day footage obtained from an NFL team. Enjoy the thread. (1/7) pic.twitter.com/MnGlSEF7LC— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 10, 2020
Tua's Pro Day footage obtained from an NFL team (2/7) pic.twitter.com/QYsONcUMHb— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 10, 2020
Tua's Pro Day footage obtained from an NFL team (3/7) pic.twitter.com/KyZQxR5R18— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 10, 2020
Tua's Pro Day footage obtained from an NFL team. (4/7) pic.twitter.com/5bL0ApQgaD— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 10, 2020
Tua's Pro Day footage obtained from an NFL team (5/7) pic.twitter.com/T6lIhQ0PxZ— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 10, 2020
Tua's Pro Day footage obtained from an NFL team (6/7) pic.twitter.com/5YwiParK2N— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 10, 2020
Tua's Pro Day footage obtained from an NFL team (7/7) pic.twitter.com/BdMJHJUjNK— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 10, 2020
The important thing to note is not how easy these throws are. Yes, it's a pro day and he's throwing against air. What NFL teams will try to glean from the film is how his mobility looks, how he moves in the pocket, if he's able to follow through on that right leg. From these clips -- and again, he's throwing against air with no pressure -- it appears the recovery is coming along well.
If that is the case, it portends well for the Raiders' draft fortunes.
Sitting at No. 12, the Raiders hope to either select one of the three elite receivers or take Florida cornerback CJ Henderson. A healthy Tua means there are at least nine players before any of those four that should go in the top 10 and that's without a wild-card team trading up to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love after the first three signal-callers are off the board.
You can expect Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Isaiah Simmons, Derrick Brown, Tristan Wirfs and perhaps Mekhi Becton to be drafted before any of the wide receivers or Henderson. If Tagovailoa goes in the top six, as is expected with a clean bill of health, the desire to move up and snag Love will be even greater.
That means the Raiders could be in a win-win situation at No. 12. The New York Jets, sitting at No. 11, are a complete wild card. They need offensive tackle help, and there are four elite ones in this class. The Jets also need a receiver, and this class is deep and talented. They really need to collect more talent, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them trade down if they are overwhelmed by a team that'senamored with Love's physical tools and in need of a quarterback.
That's all to say drafting is not an exact science, and no one knows what will happen after the Bengals take Burrow at No. 1 overall. But a healthy Tagovailoa means he's coming off the board early. A bad medical or shaky pro day could have caused teams ahead of the Raiders -- those that need a quarterback, among other positions -- to address a different need in the top 10, like a wide receiver, and not gamble on a talented quarterback who they were unable to work out.
That has been put to bed. Tagovailoa is going in the top 10 and almost certainly the top six. Teams needing a quarterback now will be climbing over the bodies to select Love, hoping he's the cure to what ails them.
It's all good news for the Raiders and their hopes of collecting elite talent at two premier positions.
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