Duke Opponents in the Draft: Tua Tagovailoa

ShawnKrest

Duke isn't expected to have any players taken in the early rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.

That doesn't mean that Blue Devil games have been bereft of NFL talent, however. Duke has played several players expected to hear their names announced early in the 2020 Draft.

One of the highest profile players Duke faced last season is a player who might hear his name within the first five picks: Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The Blue Devils faced the Crimson Tide to open the season on August 31, 2019 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. Tagovailoa was a Heisman front runner, although injury curtailed those hopes later in the season.

Tua certainly looked like one of football's best against Duke. He completed 26 of 31 passes for 336 yards and four touchdowns, throwing one interception. Tagovailoa also gained 15 net yards on the ground on five carries.

"He is incredible," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said of Tua. "He's accurate. He's poised. His release is so compact and supple and quick. He can throw on the run. But I said this -- I've studied him now. I had never studied him until this summer. I think he's going to be a great quarterback this year, and he will play in the National Football League a long time. He's going to be a great player."

In Sports Illustrated's latest mock draft, Tagovailoa is expected to go in the first round, sixth overall, to the Chargers, where he'd get the chance to replace Philip Rivers. The final SI/Maven mock draft had him going ninth to Jacksonville.

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