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James Morgan Is the Hot Name Among Draft QBs

The quarterback’s rise from a forgettable run at Bowling Green to star turn at Florida International to draft-season darling. Plus, Tua looks like he’s ahead of schedule.

James Morgan is gaining steam. He won’t be a first rounder, but the quarterback out of Florida International has been busy this month.

“There is lots of buzz on him,” one NFL personnel executive says.

Teams in the market for a quarterback have shown significant interest in the 23-year-old who played his high school ball in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, in the shadow of Lambeau Field. Among them: Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, Miami, New England and Indianapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Buffalo, the Jets and Giants.

A 6' 4", 230-pound pro-style quarterback, Morgan began his college career at Bowling Green in 2015, spending his true freshman season redshirting and learning Dino Babers’s air raid offense. Babers left for Syracuse, and new coach Mike Jinks brought a new system to BGSU and, early in the ’16 season, found a new starting quarterback in Morgan. But midway through the next year, Morgan was overtaken by true freshman Jarret Doege; Morgan decided to look for a new opportunity.

He finished a pre-law degree at Bowling Green and transferred to FIU, where his career took off. He quickly won the starting job and earned Conference-USA Newcomer of the Year honors after completing 65.3% of his passes for 2,727 yards, a school-record 26 touchdowns against just seven interceptions, and leading the Panthers to a program-record nine wins. As a senior he played through injuries and his numbers regressed—one scout pointed to Morgan’s completion percentage last season (58.0%) as an area of concern, saying that he tends to force throws downfield.

But a return to health led to a standout week at the East-West Shrine Game, and the momentum has built from there. Teams like Morgan’s size and arm talent, and are impressed with his intellect, leadership and mental preparation. One scout who spent time with Morgan at the combine describes him as, “very smart.” Another adds: “We all liked him that week.”

With his pro day, team visits and workouts having been canceled, Morgan has been busy with FaceTime meetings with different teams, most of whom have requested he have a whiteboard available to diagram plays. The video meetings work just as well as an in-person meeting. Teams send Morgan film in advance of the meeting, and they go over specific plays to learn how he processes an offense. With a month to go in the draft process, he could end up in the Day 2 conversation.

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Tua Looks Ahead of Schedule: On Monday night, Tua Tagovailoa broke our collective quarantine boredom by posting four short videos to Instagram, showing off just how far ahead of schedule he looks with his rehab. Tagovailoa took his drop, he ran backwards, he ran sideways, he stepped up in the pocket, he dodged Trent Dilfer coming off the edge with what looked like a foam roller. At the combine, Tagovailoa set the date of April 9 as when he would be ready to throw for NFL personnel at a personal pro day. That won’t be happening because of COVID, but Tagovailoa sure looks like he could complete a pro day script right now.

I sent the video to some scouts to see what they thought of Tagovailoa’s movement: “Hard to tell from a few seconds of video, but he looks to be moving around quite well. Top 5!”

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