No one thought in August that we would be a week away from the NFL Draft with Tom Brady not on the Patriots roster, Tua Tagovailoa not the consensus No. 1 overall pick and the Patriots actually having a real shot at trading up for the Crimson Tide signal-caller.
But here we are in that exact scenario.
With the emergence of Joe Burrow and Tua's gruesome hip injury in the midst of the 2019 season, Tagovailoa has no shot at being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. But after positive reports of his injury recovery and videos circulating of his virtual pro day, Tua's stock has risen to the point that many have wondered whether Washington will take Tagovailoa with the second pick, or if the original team thought to be tanking for his services — the Miami Dolphins — might just land him at No. 5. Or will the increased interest cause Miami to trade up from the fifth overall spot to ensure that another team doesn't jump ahead?
Then, in the heart of smokescreen season this past week, more reports have come out stating multiple teams aren’t even considering Tagovailoa because of his injury history and that the Dolphins are looking to take Justin Herbert fifth overall. Some have even speculated that Tua could even fall outside the top 10.
Which leads us to the New England Patriots, who currently have Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as the two quarterbacks competing for the starting job. The second-year Stidham isn’t the right man for the starting job if the Patriots are trying to win, according to PFF's Eric Eager, but rather the right man for the tank. The 34-year-old journeyman Hoyer has been rather mediocre when on the field in regard to PFF grade and is more of a solid backup than anything. There are still other options out there for New England like Cam Newton, Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton (via trade), but NFL Network's Ian Rapoport has said the team has expressed no interest in any of the veterans.
In other words, they’ll be taking a hopeful replacement for Tom Brady in the 2020 NFL Draft.
By owning the 23rd overall pick but no others until the 87th pick, the Patriots are in an interesting situation and have four options to choose from: (1) trade the farm and move up to make a move for the sliding Tagovailoa, (2) stand pat and pick a guy like Jordan Love, (3) trade back and take either Jalen Hurts, Jake Fromm, Anthony Gordon or Jacob Eason, or (4) tank in 2020 for Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. Of these four, options 1 and 4 are the best options for the future of the Patriots franchise. As much as we would love for the Patriots to tank and secure one of the top quarterbacks in 2021, it doesn’t seem likely.
Injury aside, Tagovailoa is one of the best prospects PFF has ever come across. Burrow, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray are the clear-cut top-three, but Tagovailoa is right behind them. In each of the last two seasons, Tagovailoa has produced an elite 90.0-plus PFF overall grade. He joins Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence as the only quarterbacks to accomplish such a feat during the PFF College era. Even with the injury, Tagovailoa still rings in at No. 2 on the PFF Draft Board.
If tanking for Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields is out of the question, the Patriots trading the farm for Tagovailoa is the route they must go — it has the potential to start a new dynasty in New England. There’s a whole lot to love with Tagovailoa as a prospect. We here at PFF have hammered home what he brings to the table, but let’s get a refresher on why there is absolutely no reason for Tua to be sliding down in the draft unless he has negative injury reports, which he doesn't.
The three biggest things you want to see out of a quarterback prospect is great accuracy, decision-making and pocket presence. In Tagovailoa’s case, he’s elite in all three: