The health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains far from a settled matter. However, the Alabama product showed off the progress he has made during his injury rehabilitation Monday in a video posted to social media.
Tagovailoa burst onto the national scene when he came off the bench to lead the Crimson Tide to a second-half comeback in the 2017 national championship game. He went on to become a Heisman Trophy finalist the following year, nearly delivering a second consecutive title.
However, Tagovailoa's fortunes dipped this past season when he suffered a severe hip dislocation. He underwent surgery to repair the damage, ending his season after nine games. With Tagovailoa on the shelf, Alabama missed the College Football Playoff for the first time since the tournament's inception.
Tagovailoa had always planned to ramp up his workouts as the draft approached. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, said that the quarterback would throw for scouts in April with the intention that "the ball never touches the ground." While Tagovailoa likely won't work out in front of NFL talent evaluators anytime soon due to the restrictions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he does appear to have made significant strides toward returning to the field.
But while Tagovailoa's video shows an athlete seemingly without any major limitation of movement, that does not mean an NFL medical staff would clear him for contact anytime soon. Even when he does receive the green light, his next team could still take things slow as Tagovailoa re-acclimates to the workflow of football.
Of course, that doesn't mean a general manager can't or won't use an early first-round selection on Tagovailoa. Other quarterbacks have sat for a large portion or all of their rookie seasons and taken over soon after, most recently Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Patrick Mahomes. When healthy, few question Tagovailoa's talent. His next team just needs to take a patient approach with him as he works his way back from his hip injury.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH