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Report: Multiple Teams Rank Justin Herbert Over Tua Tagovailoa

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It’s peak #smokescreenszn, everybody!

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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, a report from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported that he is hearing multiple teams prefer the Ducks quarterback over former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Miller’s reasoning is very simple in that the medicals on Herbert are much cleaner than Tagovailoa’s.

While Tua has reportedly been given a great prognosis at the Combine (where literally everything in a medical file can and will be looked over with a fine tooth comb), the impact of COVID-19 is hitting him in a most inopportune time. In normal conditions, teams will pick over a prospect’s medical file on their visits to the team facility with team doctors. How meticulous are teams in this process? If you suffered as much as a broken nail in the third grade, you can pretty much guarantee they know or will know about it before the draft. These aren’t normal conditions, however, like most of the country, the NFL ordered that teams must shutter their facilities and stop prospect visits a while back. Another negative working against Tua is that the Combine medical recheck was cancelled (teams request that certain prospects be flown out to Indianapolis for another round of medical testing usually in early April). So in essence, team executives are heavily reliant on word of mouth sources with agenda driven motivations (agents, college team and/or third party physicians. coaches, etc).

While at Alabama, Tua suffered from two significant knee injuries, an ankle issue, and the dislocated hip. Comparatively speaking, Herbert has been healthy outside of the broken collarbone and the broken femur he suffered in high school.

If you read my QB big board piece linked in today’s Quack Fix, I have Herbert as the better prospect of the two, citing Tua’s medical issues. If both guys were perfectly healthy, I’d have ranked Tua over Herbert by a significant margin. The two offensive lines were comparable in talent. While Tua doesn’t have Herbert’s natural arm strength (not many NFL quarterbacks do), he has better read processing skills, touch on his passes, and won’t panic with a cluttered pocket. Tagovailoa has shown much more ability in throwing with anticipation (aka throwing receivers open). Whether that was an ineffective system designed by former offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, the Ducks failure to recruit any receivers with ability to run routes or the know how to get open, or even Herbert’s inability to consistently make those kind of throws is an argument that will go on for the rest of time. When comparing the two as an objective observer, Tua is the more polished passer of the two while Herbert has the more physical traits plus the durability.

I can see the logic that NFL front offices would take by ranking Herbert over Tua due to the unfortunate medical issues. As they say, the best ability is availability. It’s perfectly logical to think that NFL teams would take the sure bet (medically) now over the big risk given the lack of information given to them.

So with all that said, is Herbert on his way to supplanting Tua as the second quarterback off the board in real life as it is on my big board? As always, it’s peak #SmokescreenSZN so teams will do anything to cover their intentions in this final stretch run to the draft.