Detroit Lions NFL Draft: Selecting Tua Tagovailoa a bold unexpected pick

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

If the Detroit Lions wanted to make a statement tonight, they’d select quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft.

It would be the most controversial, yet intriguing pick in the entire 2020 NFL Draft if the Detroit Lions were to do the unthinkable, select Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa with the third overall choice.  It’s a pick that will just add fuel to Lions’ fans banter.  Many fans would like Detroit to draft Tua and know they’ve secured their quarterback of the future.  Others will consider it a ‘wasted’ pick, but would it be?

Injury concerns will follow Tagovailoa at least for the first few years of his career, but it’s interesting how quickly one forgets.  Remember when Matthew Stafford entered the league?  Of course, you do, he was often referred to as a ‘china doll’ very fragile and easily broken.  He’s been everything but that up until last season when he missed the second half of the season due to a lingering broken back.

Usually, when a quarterback with Tua’s upside enters the league, the player wants to start immediately; oddly enough, that isn’t the case with Tagovailoa.  Tua’s agent has stated his client is comfortable, actually would prefer to sit for a year behind a veteran quarterback to learn what it takes to be a professional.

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It’s the most critical position on the field; it takes a commitment like no other and endless film study.  Imagine having Tua on the Detroit roster learning from a guy like Stafford.  It will be a terrific learning experience, plus by drafting a highly-touted rookie quarterback, it will give Stafford something he hasn’t had during his entire career – some push by a backup quarterback.

No, Tua won’t unseat Stafford, but he’d surely create some healthy competition. Drafting Tua, leaves the Lions with endless options.  Stafford is 32-years old, with likely only four prime years left in his career.  No one says that Tua needs to play in year two, he’s 22-years old.  Detroit can sit him for three years, let him marinate similar to what the Green Bay Packers chose to do with Aaron Rodgers when he sat three years behind Brett Favre.

Rodgers was a first-round pick, he was groomed, and he was ready when his time came.  If Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia do their job, the Detroit Lions won’t pick this high again in a very long time.  If you have your faith in this management team, Detroit shouldn’t have an opportunity to select a quarterback with this much upside again.

Many are comparing Tua to Drew Brees but from the left side.  Sure, that’s a significant comparison to live up to, but that’s the type of talent we are talking about here.  He’s a more complete prospect than Burrow, especially when it comes to making throws to the boundary.

Tua has enough arm talent to get it there; Burrow struggles making those NFL sideline throws.  Tua can process a defense much better than Justin Herbert, although he doesn’t have the same cannon of an arm.  Herbert makes many more mistakes but can grip it and rip it like Josh Allen in Buffalo.

Over the last two seasons, Tagovailoa completed 70% of his pass attempts and tossed for 76 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.  In 24 starts, he passed for 6,806 yards.  He’s not a dual-threat quarterback but has admirable pocket presence and has great awareness to slide around within the pocket.  During his career at Alabama, he rushed for 340 yards and nine touchdowns.

With an aging Stafford, Tua’s fluke hip injury isn’t the only concern.  He’s had multiple ankle surgeries already in his young career.  Detroit needs to weigh the concern with the upside of the player.  It only takes one hit to end a career.

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Selecting Tua would be a bold, unexpected move by Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions.  It without a doubt, it would send shock waves across the league.  It’s an unlikely choice, but it’s something to think about.