Before our most recent mailbag, several #MiamiDolphins fans asked questions pertaining to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, so we decided to group them together for one segment on the 2020 first-round pick from the University of Alabama.
The questions ranged from a projection on his 2021 season to what would benefit most in the NFL draft.
Here we go:
From the mick (@PastryTsar):
Is Tua healthy? Like Alabama healthy? Last year he wondered aloud if he ever be the same physically and said he felt like he was "running in sand." I know he's posting training pics but what is he saying to the team about how he's feeling?
First off, the training pics are great and all that, but they mean practically nothing in the grand scheme of things because just about every NFL player works out this time of year; it's just that some don't post their workouts on social media. As for Tua's health, he was very consistent last year in saying that he was fine physically but that he also didn't think he'd ever be back to his pre-injury form. Two other points that need to be made: First, Brian Flores said publicly in October that he wasn't ready to make the change because he wanted Tua to be fully ready before putting him in a game. Second, did anybody really any sign of a quarterback who wasn't healthy last year? I didn't see that at any point. On the contrary, his scrambling against Arizona sure didn't look like it would come from somebody who was dealing with an injury. The health issue is not a factor, from where I sit.
From Travis Fountain (@Uncle_Dub76):
What’s the best draft scenario for Tua’s development? Top OL and Top RB for dominant running game or Pitts/Chase/Smith, then RB?
Interesting question. Can I answer "yes"? No? OK. I'd say a "dominant" running game probably would be the best-case scenario, but I'm not sure that can be accomplished through one draft. That's a pipe dream. Besides, outside of Baltimore and Tennessee, how many teams truly have "dominant" running games. And Baltimore's running game is "dominant" in large part because of what Lamar Jackson does. So that's a tall order, and the only way to get that done overnight might be to draft an offensive lineman at 6 and Najee Harris at 18, and I'm not so sure that's the best course of action.
From SuperCoop (@carolcity86):
What type or level of progress should we expect from Tua this year?
That's the $64,000 question, now, isn't it? And it's probably the most important question when it comes to what kind of success the Dolphins can have in 2021. Going from Year 1 to Year 2, one absolutely should expect some level of progress from Tua. On one hand, he figures to have better talent around him on offense, but on the other he might not have as much help from the defense in terms of the turnovers created. Based on what I saw last year, my best guess — if I could do better than a best guess, I'd go bet money on it — is that there will a modest level of progress.
From Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly):
What second-year player takes the biggest jump in 2021?
This isn't a Tua question, per se, but my esteemed peer from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a big believer in Tua and I'm thinking Tua is the answer he wants from me here. And given that Tua is the starting quarterback, he certainly will have the best opportunity to take a big jump in his second season. But I don't quite share the same confidence that many Dolphins writers have that Tua is a slam dunk to become a star in the NFL, so I'll go in a different direction here. Based on what I saw last year, the one player who quickly comes to mind for me is Robert Hunt. I saw glimpses last year of a player who absolutely could become a dominant right tackle. I'd go as far as to say he probably was the only Dolphins rookie in 2020 who gave me that feeling.
From Paul Hendricksen (@phendricksen):
What’s your projection for Tua assuming he’s fully healthy & plays 14-16 games? What’s his biggest area of improvement? #FinsUp
The biggest area of improvement absolutely has to be the willingness to throw 50-50 passes to give his receivers the chance to make contested catches. Tua himself admitted last year he didn't like doing that and that limited what he could do in the passing game. He'll need to become more aggressive and become more willing to take chances if he's going to take that next step. As for a projection, I'm still not ready to go with big numbers yet — regardless of who the Dolphins get in the draft — so let's say 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, nine or 10 picks. As with any prediction, I'm only doing it because you asked. If I knew what was going to happen, I'd go put money on it.