The Jury’s out: Should Miami Draft Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert at 5?

As the 2020 NFL Draft draws ever closer, the chatter linking Justin Herbert with the Dolphins grows ever louder –  Are Miami no longer Tanking for Tua and changing plans at the last moment? Is it a case of somebody making something out of nothing, or is it a smokescreen created by the Dolphins?

We won’t know the answer until the pick is in but this is the theme for today’s piece – We have Lee (@Wakefield90), who is arguing the case for the Dolphins to take Tua and we have Dolphins fan, Andy (@AJMoore21) who is pulling for Herbert.

You can decide for yourself which path the Dolphins should follow… First up, we’ll hear what Lee has to say about Tua Tagovailoa.

Why should Miami draft Tua Tagovailoa over any other QB? This is what I am trying to convince you of today. I’m taking on our resident Dolphins fan, Andy Moore (@AJMoore21) who it seems is getting cold feet a little bit when it comes to Miami taking Tua in this month’s draft.

You can hear us talk about this a little bit on our podcast that we recorded on How Free Agency Affected the First Round of the NFL Draft – Available, like all Full 10 Yards Podcasts, in all the usual places.

Anyway, let’s get into this then and let me tell you why Miami should draft Tua Tagovailoa and live happily ever after… hopefully, at least.

First and foremost, let me address that all draft picks, whether that be a guaranteed top 5 pick who is coming off a decorated college career or a late round roster filler, all come with risk.

Tua’s risks, in my opinion at least are few and far between, there’s just one perceived risk that hangs over him and feels considerably larger than anything else, and that is of course, the small matter of a broken and dislocated hip that he suffered last year and perhaps his general injury history.

One thing I will say, is that this is obviously not an ideal situation and injuries are a concern. However, the hip is by all accounts healing well and Tua has been cleared for full contact again. Injuries happen, this was a bit of a freak injury and  injuries are part and parcel of playing football, and do you know what? Every QB in the National Football League aside from Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson get injured. 

Teams still win and the world keeps turning.

Miami by all accounts has been angling to draft Tua for over a year, so why get cold feet now over an injury (yes, a severe one) when most QB’s and most players will likely suffer injury at some point? I don’t know if it’d be wise to deviate from a plan, 12 month or more in the making, which has a tangible end in sight.

Injury is almost inevitable in the NFL.

Why am I so calm about this? Well, for one, I’m not a Miami fan.

No, I’m joking.

I guess I do have a vested interest though, as a Chargers fan – If Miami does select Justin Herbert then the Chargers may pick Tagovailoa. Would I be ok with this?

Yes.

Why?

Because Tua Tagovailoa is one of the most talented quarterbacks to come out of college football in recent times and was rightfully being talked up as a potential number one overall pick until Joe Burrow came along.

The draft is about getting the best possible players for your football team and Tua is a potentially franchise changing QB – He’s mobile, he’s intelligent, he’s accurate, he’s a great leader… The list goes on. I’m not saying other QB’s aren’t but he’s been there, he’s done it and he’s done so at the highest level of college football. That’s why I’d want him on my team and why Miami should take him.

Why am I not worried? Because even if the injuries do get the better of him, it’s going to be fine. For two reasons:

Firstly, when Tua is on the field, he’s going to win you games. Miami is getting better and I think Brian Flores has got them moving in the right direction. Having a good QB, on a rookie deal allows you to put your money into other positions and gives you a shot at a championship window.

And lastly… What do smart people do when they see risk? They have a contingency plan to mitigate the risk.

If the injury tag weighs heavily on your mind as the Dolphins, have a backup plan.

Currently, in the NFL coming into this draft, the demand for QB’s is outstripping supply, there are good QB’s without jobs and you already have one of the better replacement level QB’s in the league on your roster in Ryan Fitzpatrick – You can find someone to come in for Tua if he’s hurt and because you’re not sinking too much money into the quarterback position overall, the rest of your team should be good.

If Tua is a failure and he’s too banged up to have a career, so what? He won’t have cost you too much money on a rookie deal and you just draft another QB. Simple.

However, wouldn’t it be better to know what could have been rather than play it safe?

And here is Andy with his case for Miami drafting the former Oregon passer, Justin Herbert.

Bill Parcells rules for Quarterbacks:

Be a three-year starter

Be a senior in college

Graduate from college

Start 30 games

Win 23 games

Post a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio

Compete at least 60-percent of passes thrown

It’s obviously not a perfect formula, and some would even say it’s outdated. However, what is certain is that Justin Herbert ticks every one of those boxes.

The Oregon Ducks product is intriguing for the Dolphins, and indeed any other QB needy team in the NFL, he offers the traditional pocket passer option, and some see him as the safe, high floor, low ceiling prospect.

Herbert is a four-year starter after making his debut as a true freshman in 2016. Since then he’s shown remarkable adaptability, working under Mark Helfrich, Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal as the Ducks churned through coaches. The versatility Herbert has demonstrated when learning new playbooks is testament to his all-round intelligence and work rate, something that translated into good grades in College and High School.

But all that doesn’t make you draft a man to be your franchise Quarterback.

On the field, Herbert possesses a cannon of a right arm, capable of stretching the field and finding his man with a rocket over the top of the defense. But his isn’t a wild approach, Herbert’s throwing technique is balanced and he is able to adjust the angle at which he throws to work around onrushing defenders.

His technical ability and arm strength often combine to produce ropes into tight windows or where only his receiver can come down with the ball (see below vs Stanford).  

In the pocket, there has been a lot of improvement, with Herbert’s Senior season tape showing light footwork in the pocket and showcasing his natural ability to climb the ladder and step into his throws.

Outside of it, Herbert isn’t a natural runner in the style of some of the modern QBs taking the league by storm, but he’s more than capable of getting out of the pocket and picking up the first down when needed. In this year’s Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, it was Herbert’s legs that gave the Ducks the win as he rushed for 29 yards and 3 TDs.

Mentally, Herbert is up there with the best in this draft, he goes through his progressions without panic, he can read defences and adjust plays at the line, and he is extremely calm under pressure. The latter highlighted by his game winning drive against Utah as a true freshman, in which he threw the game winning play with 0:02 on the clock.

Beyond the praise, there are clearly still things to work on, a lack of leadership ability is often the first issue raised, Herbert and those around him maintain this isn’t the case, but whichever team takes him will probably want to see a more fiery side to him in the huddle. There’s also the need to work on escapability and anticipation, especially if he’s going to play behind a Dolphins offensive line that looks anything like last years.

So why should the Dolphins take Herbert, not Tua? For me, aside from the physical tools, it’s the partnership with Brian Flores that makes sense, the work he has put in through his college career is the prime example of the ‘culture’ which is being cultivated at Hard Rock Stadium.

Combine that with the prototype build, the rocket arm and the calmness under pressure, and it’s not hard to envisage Herbert in the aqua and orange and as the successor to Dan Marino that the Dolphins have been craving for twenty years.

It’s also worth considering the draft capital that Miami has built up, some see that as further evidence that the plan all along has been to accumulate whatever it takes to take Tua. On the flip side, with glaring holes across their roster, I see every pick on day 1 & 2 as being vital to the rebuild and fully expect the Dolphins to pick at least five times before we reach the third round.

It’s #HerbertSzn, right?

Tweet us, @Full10YardsCFB and tell us who you think who should be under center for the Dolphins.

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