The prospect of the Washington Redskins drafting Tua Tagovailoa gained steam during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis at the end of February.
Head coach Ron Rivera made national headlines when he said the Redskins would meet with both the Alabama quarterback and LSU's Joe Burrow, and ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. further fueled the speculation by stating that if Tagovailoa is healthy, the Redskins should take him and have him compete with second-year signal-caller Dwayne Haskins.
These developments have impacted recent mock drafts. Whereas nearly every pre-combine mock draft projected the Redskins to draft Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, at least five mock drafts over the past two weeks now have the Redskins selecting Tagovailoa, according to NFL Mock Draft Database.
"We've seen this story before," NFL.com's Chad Reuter wrote in his most-recent three-round mock draft, which was released March 6. "New coach wants his own QB in the building despite the franchise spending a first-round pick on the position a year earlier (SEE: Cardinals in 2019). Tua's talent is certainly worthy of this pick, and it would be easy to see Ron Rivera wanting this young man in the building, even if it means parting with the No. 15 overall pick from a year ago, Dwayne Haskins."
Tagovailoa initially established himself as a potential No. 1 pick in 2018 when he completed 69% of his passes for nearly 4,000 yards, 43 touchdowns and three interceptions and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He followed that up by completing 71.4% of his attempts last season with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions.
The biggest question surrounding Tagovailoa has been about the fractured hip he suffered in November, though that seems to be less of an issue by the day.
The first piece of good news for Tagovailoa came on Feb. 10, when a three-month CT scan revealed that his hip had healed. He then received "overwhelmingly positive" reports from the teams that examined him at the NFL Combine, which included his MRIs coming out "extremely clean," according to NFL Network national insider Ian Rapoport.
At his press conference in Indianapolis, Tagovailoa said he expected to be cleared March 9. He will hold a personal pro day at Alabama on April 9.
"Talented dual-threat quarterback with winning background, explosive production and loads of experience in high-leverage games," NFL.com Analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in his draft profile of Tagovailoa. "He may be pigeon-holed into a spread or RPO-heavy attack, but he's actually a clean fit in a pro-style attack filled with play-action and roll-outs. He has the release, accuracy and touch needed to work all three levels successfully and can become a more disciplined, full-field reader to piece the puzzle together against NFL coverages."
Other mock drafts that have Tagovailoa going to Washington include SB Nation, Rotoworld, Grueling Truth and Blue Chip Scouting, and there there will likely be more before the NFL Draft kicks off in Las Vegas on April 23. Their reasoning is similar; the new Redskins' regime did not draft Haskins, and Tagovailoa is a better draft prospect.
"Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and others instantly elicited promise. Did you get that feeling watching Haskins?" Rotoworld's Josh Norris wrote. "So while passing on Chase Young would be immensely difficult, no quarterback on the roster should stand in their way if Washington does indeed love Tua."
"You can't dismiss the fact that Rivera was not part of the organization when it drafted Dwayne Haskins last year," added SB Nation's Dan Kadar. "And while Rivera said a team can win with Haskins, this seemed like much more of a damning quote."
Whether the Redskins draft Tagovailoa or not, his positive health developments put them in an even better spot with the No. 2 overall pick. Should they chose Tagovailoa, he'll be ready to compete for the starting job from the outset. And if they pass, their selection holds immense trade value. The Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Chargers are both in need of a quarterback and could be willing to give up multiple first-round picks for the chance to add Tagovailoa.
The overwhelming majority of draft experts still believe the Redskins will stick with Young, but the "Tua to the Redskins" chatter has officially begun. Don't expect it to stop anytime soon.