If you’re a Patriots fan praying for a speedy, post-Brady recovery, hit your knees and pray somebody in the Top 10 takes Tua Tagovailoa.
Because if nobody does and the Patriots trade up to get him as we’ve been talking about nonstop for a month?
They will be stuck with a millstone.
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A vertically challenged, lefthanded quarterback whose leg popped out of its hip socket four months ago because he was running for his life with an injured ankle to get away from a collegiate pass rush that he didn’t want to get hit by because the collection of future pros on his offense failed to make life as easy for him on that play as they normally did.
No disrespect to Tua, of course. No reason to root against him finding his forever home in the NFL. But this ain’t it. This is a team that has penance to do for the past five drafts that they mostly peed out the window.
This is a team that’s passed on every … single … chance … to draft a competent tight end since Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Now they have nobody who can play at a position they relied on in their rushing and passing games.
This is a team that said goodbye to its most productive 2019 pass rushers — Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy — this spring and said goodbye to its most productive 2018, 2017 and 2016 pass rusher — Trey Flowers — last spring.
This is a team which lost one of the greatest assistant coaches in NFL history — Dante Scarnecchia — to retirement and that now may trade its best offensive lineman — Joe Thuney — this week. A team with a promising but injury-plagued left tackle — Isaiah Wynn — who may need to move to guard if Thuney leaves. A team with a solid right tackle — Marcus Cannon — who’s probably winding down his career.
This is a team that’s leaned on 34-year-old crash-test dummy Julian Edelman to carry them at receiver. A team that finally dabbled in taking a first-round wideout — N’Keal Harry — and saw him get hurt, struggle to make an impact and give only mild hope that he’ll be a piece the team can count on.
And that’s it there.
This is a team with 32-year-old safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty with nobody behind them. This is a team with 30-year-old Dont'a Hightower with maybe Ja’Whaun Bentley behind him. This is a team with its best defensive lineman — Lawrence Guy — entering his contract year and its best defensive player – Stephon Gilmore – up for a new deal after 2021.
Now, if the Patriots addressed some of those spots in the second round over the past few years, maybe they could entertain the idea of moving up in the draft. Instead, they’ve annually done the equivalent of buying a DB scratch-ticket and gotten nothing at all from Duke Dawson, Jordan Richards or Cyrus Jones. We’ll see on niche-need corner Joejuan Williams.
It’s a fact that Tua is very well-regarded in Foxboro. Despite the height limitations, injury concerns and his three-quarters delivery, his leadership and production at Alabama have made him a darling.
And, the same way the Patriots were connected to Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield, they are being linked to this year’s QB Flavor of the Draft by national writers like Peter King who predicted the Patriots would deal with San Fran to go get Tua at 13.
Projected cost on that using draft-trade charts? Well, since the Patriots don’t have a second-round pick (Mohamed Sanu trade) they can’t use that as collateral (or blow it on some defensive back who was projected to go in Round 5).
So, hypothetically, they’d be looking at sending the Niners the 23rd pick, two third-rounders and a fifth-rounder. And they’d be left with one pick in the top 99 (Tua) and in possession of the 100th.
Even if they were a team with no needs, punting through most of the first three rounds would be a bold move. For a team that got its ass handed to it by every division winner in the AFC last year (Miami and Tennessee to boot), it would be moronic.
Now, I get why Nick Saban’s engaged this week in trying to convince the NFL that Bama is supposed to send its first decent quarterback to the NFL since Richard Todd. Tagovailoa shouldn’t have been on the field against Mississippi State. They were up 35-7. The rout was on. Tua was already hurt. Saban left Tua in harm’s way. Tua got hurt and that reduced the likelihood he’d be a top-five pick. Saban is now banging the drum for him.
I also get why the Tua-to-the-Patriots buzz and conjecture is so strong. Bill Belichick, being a dear friend of Nick Saban, won’t mind in the least if the rest of the league thinks the Patriots are moving up. It helps Nick by helping Tua and makes other teams get antsy.
But the people thinking the Patriots are going up for Tua are the same ones who thought Cam Newton would be on the New England radar and the same ones who were shocked, surprised, STUNNED when Tom Brady decided he was leaving.
If you’re paying close attention to the Patriots, you can see that their grip on continuing to be THE PATRIOTS is very, very loose.
A move up for Tua Tagovailoa? That would push them over the edge.
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