When Tua Tagovailoa took to the field at Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, there was an excitement to see how he began the 2021 season as first-choice Quarterback. He duly responded by running in the first score of the game, before finding 2021 draftee Jaden Waddle for his first passing touchdown of the season.
However, he wasn’t the first Tagovailoa to take to the field this season. That came in the form of Maryland Quarterback Taulia. Currently expected to be drafted in Rounds 4-7 of the 2022 Draft, Taulia has finally had the chance to show what he is capable of after playing just 4 times in 2020. Although, the younger Tagovailoa is still a Junior, so he could opt to stay at Maryland for his Senior season.
His 2021 campaign started with a 30-24 win over West Virginia, where he threw for 3 touchdowns and 332 yards, before a big 62-0 win over Howard. Taulia threw for another 3 touchdowns and 274 yards, before leaving the field in the 3rd quarter with Maryland up 45-0.
Taulia’s most recent performance came against Illinois this past weekend.
Taulia Tagovailoa Profile
The 5’11 prospect out of Alabama is shorter than his older brother Tua, but has a compact frame and is generally a solid athlete. He served as backup to his brother for a season with Alabama Crimson Tide, before transferring to Maryland. Although his 2020 season saw him start just 4 games, he showed glimpses of his potential that allowed him to be the first-choice Quarterback for 2021 once again.
Before heading to Alabama, Taulia was named the Polynesian High School Football Co-Player of the Year for 2018, as well as being First-Team All-State, Class 7A for 2018. At Thompson HS he threw for 3728 yards and 35 touchdowns in his Senior year, making him one of the top-rated Quarterbacks in 2019.
His freshman year saw him head to Alabama to link up with his brother. He threw for 100 yards in his five games of action, before making the transfer to Maryland through the transfer portal in 2020.
Although he threw 7 interceptions in his Sophomore year, he threw 7 touchdowns and over 1000 yards. His full debut season saw him gain an Honorable Mention in the All-Big Ten due to being ranked top five in multiple passing categories.
Taulia is certainly an impressive athlete in general. He is strong, quick and has the vision to make plays from the quarterback role. However, his main strength is his ability to step up as an individual and pursue his own dream of making the NFL.
Starting at Alabama, he was second choice to his brother, but didn’t settle for being second choice for too long and made his own way to Maryland to make that role his.
His strengths from a positional point of view his largely down to his physique and overall power. It allows him to make short to medium passes with plenty of zip and reduce chances of being picked off, whilst he has the range to make long passes downfield.
The clip above not only shows his range and how accurate he is, but it also shows his pocket presence and ability to work outside it to avoid being tackled in the backfield. His quick feet and awareness helps him, but he naturally is able to get creative with his plays due to his ability to identify what’s around him.
There has been question marks over whether he can make consistent deep plays, but so far this season he has proven that can be a big part of his game as well as his impressive short, sharp passes for quickfire plays.
If he can consistently find passes both short and deep, then he will add some serious value to his worth, combined with his quick feet and ability to pick up short first downs on the ground.
There is a lot to like about Taulia and his game, but there are also a couple of areas he needs to improve upon.
Areas to improve
Weighing 214lbs, he can certainly take a hit, as well as being able to make short running gains, as seen last season when he rushed for 4 touchdowns.
Although he hasn’t got the footwork of his older brother, Taulia can make short first downs when needed, but lacks the ability to extend plays further than that. He did manage a 39 yard TD against Minnesota last season, showing his presence to get out of trouble in the pocket and look further down field.
He managed to avoid being tackled for a loss, before utilizing his blockers to make the big play. This has yet to be seen on a consistent basis so far, but could be a key tool for him as the season progresses in 2021.
There will always be that element of being Tua’s younger brother that will no doubt hang over him as he looks to develop himself into an NFL quarterback. Tua has made his own way to the league and has done extremely well, can Taulia match this?
The real question is whether Taulia will make the NFL when available for the Draft. There may be a few teams willing to take the risk based on his name, but as a single entity there is plenty to like about the young Tagovailoa.
A combination of speed, throwing power, throwing accuracy and presence in and around the pocket he can get it done both on the ground and in the air. There are certainly similarities between himself and his brother, but there is a lot to like as an individual.
We may see him drafted in the 4th Round of the Draft, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see his stock rise as his season continues and he keeps helping Maryland do well.
Keep an eye on his progress this season. as he is more than capable of making the NFL and we could be in for a double Tagovailoa showing in the next few years.
Follow Jake on Twitter – @AccukAnalysis1