Tua Tagovailoa takes round one over Justin Herbert in this battle of the NFL rookies


One year ago, there were three college football quarterbacks that were projected first round draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

LSU’s Joe Burrow was an eventual national champion; Tua Tagovailoa had just suffered a hip injury that ended his collegiate career, but what he had done so far at Alabama was good enough for an NFL team to come knocking; and Justin Herbert had taken the Oregon Ducks from a 4-8 season in 2016 to a Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl win in 2020.

All three quarterbacks were selected with the top six picks in the draft: Burrow No. 1 to the Cincinnati Bengals; Tagovailoa No. 5 to the Miami Dolphins; and Herbert No. 6 to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Each franchise got its quarterback of the future.

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These three will continue to be compared to one another throughout their NFL careers just from being in the same draft class.

On Sunday, the first matchup was here: Herbert and the Chargers (2-6) at the Dolphins (5-3) in Tagovailoa’s third career start. The Chargers, once again, lost by a one-score margin, 29-21 to the Dolphins in Miami, Florida.  

Here’s how the two rookie quarterbacks stacked up against one another:


Completed 20-of-32 passes for 187 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Herbert also had one QB sneak for a touchdown. 

With his two passing touchdowns, Herbert has become the first rookie quarterback to throw two passing touchdowns in six consecutive games. These touchdowns came against some pretty good defenses too: Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Denver, Las Vegas and Miami.


At this rate, it would be surprising if he didn’t win the 2020 Rookie of the Year award at the conclusion of the season. 


It was a sad day for 16-year veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick when he was relinquished from his starting duties for the rookie out of Alabama. 

But so far in Tagovailoa’s career, the rookie is 3-0 with the Dolphins with wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, two powerhouse NFC West division teams, and now the Los Angeles Chargers. 

He recorded 15-of-25 completions for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the win on Sunday. 

Tagovailoa isn’t airing it down the field as much as Herbert has in his first three games. Herbert has had multiple games throwing the ball over 300+ yards. The longest pass Tagovailoa has completed is just 35 yards downfield. But this will be something to watch moving forward.

Tagovailoa will face Burrow and the Bengals in Week 13 at home in Miami.