University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will announce his decision on Monday whether he’s entering the 2020 NFL Draft or returning to Tuscaloosa for his senior year of college. While the Redskins almost certainly wouldn’t select Tagovailoa, they’re significantly impacted by his decision, one way or another.
As recent as seven weeks ago, this scenario seemed unfathomable. Entering the 2019 season, the ‘Bama signal-caller was the consensus No. 1 overall pick; the phrase ‘Tanking for Tua’ was a legit thing. But the trajectory of Tagovailoa’s career was altered on November 16, when the quarterback dislocated his hip during the Crimson Tide’s victory over Mississippi State. The injury ended his season.
Tagovailoa was on pace for another Heisman invitation before the injury. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery, but should he declare for the draft, Tagovailoa would likely not be able to showcase his skills during February’s scouting combine and Alabama’s pro day.
Washington holds the No. 2 overall selection. The Redskins invested in quarterback Dwayne Haskins in last year’s draft, so drafting Tagovailoa, or any other quarterback there, is not happening. Despite the health concerns, Tua is still expected to be an early first-round selection. Our latest mock draft has the Dolphins selecting him fifth overall.
So, the young quarterback has a decision to make.
In 2012, the Redskins traded three first-round picks to the Los Angeles Rams for the No. 2 overall selection to select Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. Eight years later, could Washington swing a trade like that for a team desperate for Tagovailoa? Let’s take a look.
Prior to free agency, we know the Bengals and Dolphins are looking to draft a quarterback in the first round. The Chargers have been rumored to be interested in taking a quarterback in the first round, too. Colts general manager Chris Ballard said the “jury is still out” on Jacoby Brissett, meaning they could be looking to take a QB early on as well.
Jon Gruden has never been Derek Carr’s biggest fan in Oakland and could be looking to make a splashy pick in the first round as the franchise moves to Las Vegas. If the Buccaneers choose not to pay Jameis Winston, they’ll be in the quarterback market, too. Depending on the status of Tom Brady, New England could quietly enter the mix.
Cincinnati is widely expected to take LSU’s Joe Burrow No. 1 overall. But for any other team to guarantee the quarterback of their choice, the Redskins are the team to call. If Tagovailoa declares, he’ll have several suitors for his services.
The Dolphins are the first team that comes to mind. But based on the draft order, the Dolphins may not have to trade out of their draft spot in order to get Tagovailoa. Besides the Bengals, it’s unlikely the three teams in front of Miami — Washington, Detroit, and New York Giants — will take a QB. The Redskins have Haskins, the Giants have Daniel Jones, and the Lions still have Matt Stafford under contract for three more seasons.
The Chargers are interested in Tagovailoa, according to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. This is where things get interesting for the Redskins. As it stands now, Los Angeles has the No. 6 overall selection. In order to take Tagovailoa, they’d likely have to jump Miami at No. 5. The Redskins would be the perfect trade partner to do so.
Washington does not have any second-round selections, as they traded theirs to the Colts last April in order to move back into the first round to select Montez Sweat. Could the No. 6 overall pick this year, the Chargers 2020 second-round pick (No. 37 overall), and a future first-round pick be enough for Washington to give up the No. 2 pick? We’ll see, but it’s worth the hypothetical.
Another team to watch here is Oakland. A year ago, it was widely known across the league that Jon Gruden wanted Kyler Murray, who the Cardinals selected No. 1 overall in 2019. In this year’s class, Tagovailoa is the QB prospect closest to Murray and is regarded as the better of the two coming out of school by many draft experts. Oakland has two first-round picks at No. 8 and No. 19. Should Gruden offer up both of those for the No. 2, Washington could be intrigued.
If Tagovailoa decides to stay at Alabama, what was once considered a strong quarterback class suddenly becomes thinner. Besides Burrow and maybe Oregon’s Justin Herbert, no quarterback in the draft has a ceiling as high as Tagovailoa’s.
Almost every year, teams get desperate and trade up for a quarterback. Would teams get desperate for Herbert? What about Utah State’s Jordan Love? Washington’s Jacob Eason?
Of course, the Redskins could always stay put at No. 2 and select Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, who’s considered one of the best pass rushers in years. Heck, even Haskins and Derrius Guice voiced their support for the Redskins to take Young.
The bottom line is the No. 2 overall pick is an extremely valuable asset. The chances of Washington selecting a high-impact player at that position is high. But trading the pick could bring in several more assets and picks, and the Redskins have a significant amount of holes to fill.
Washington needs another cornerback opposite Quinton Dunbar, and the 2020 draft is deep at that position. Left tackle is a major need if Trent Williams doesn’t return, and another wide receiver on the outside opposite Terry McLaurin would be a huge boost, too. Trading the No. 2 overall pick for multiple first-round selections could help the Redskins fast track the process of filling all these needs.
Quarterbacks climb draft boards every year, but the absence of Tagovailoa in the class could hinder some teams from parting with multiple assets to secure the No. 2 pick from Washington. Although the Redskins won’t be taking Tagovailoa, the value of the No. 2 overall selection would certainly increase should the ‘Bama quarterback announce his intentions to enter the draft on Monday.
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