Tua Tagovailoa was the fifth pick in the virtual NFL Draft on Thursday. The Saint Louis star turned Roll Tide icon will become the new face of the Miami Dolphins.
Flush with offensive weapons at Alabama, Tagovailoa won’t have fellow first-round draft pick wide receivers Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III at his disposal in 2020.
Miami went 5-11 last season. As its roster currently stands, Tua’s top target likely will be WR Devante Parker. A five-year pro, Parker is a former 1st round draft pick by the Dolphins. He caught nine touchdowns and went for 1202 yards in 2019, both career highs. Parker has totaled 18 TDs and 3419 yards in his quintet of years in the NFL.
When discussing offensive play-makers for Tagovailoa to deal with, it could be argued that the talent level drops off after Parker. Six year veteran Allen Hurns likely is the ‘Fins number two WR with another tenured pass catcher, Albert Wilson joining him in the receiver room. Miami’s best tight end is Mike Gesicki, a two-year pro with 73 career catches and five touchdowns.
There is of course, still plenty of time for the Dolphins roster to change.
Austin Jackson was selected with Miami’s second first-round pick. Jackson is a left tackle, and will join the O-line in front of Tua.
Miami has a Space Mountain-like history with the quarterback position. One of the greatest passers of all time, Dan Marino had a legendary 17 year career with the Dolphins, but never won a Super Bowl. Since Marino, Miami has had 21 different quarterbacks start a football game for the ‘Fins.
Bearded journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick provided stability at the QB position last year after Josh Rosen struggled in the first five games.
Ryan Tannehill had been the entrenched starter in South Beach for a short period. His term lasted from from 2012-2018, with Tannehill missing the entire 2017 season with an injury. He was then traded away from Miami to the Titans where he eventually beat out another Saint Louis graduate, Marcus Mariota for the starting QB job in Tennessee.
Both Fitzpatrick (who is 37 years old) and Rosen remain on the Dolphins roster. There have been no overt indications from the team on short-term plans for who will start under center.
#TankforTua picked up steam on social media last year like a winter swell on the North Shore. Miami started the season 0-7. Pair that with a thunderous season from Tagovailoa at Alabama, and many fans of the ‘Fins wanted the franchise to focus on 2020. Ownership and management never verbalized a plan to climb the draft order with a bad season. Head coach Brian Flores led his team two five total wins after the abysmal start. But as everything, including Tua’s hip injury, took place, the Dolphins still wound up with the pride of Ewa Beach.
With a reported four year, 30.2 million dollar contract, Tagovailoa is certainly in the forefront of the long term designs for Miami.
Tagovailoa has won championships in high school and college. The Dolphins haven’t claimed a Lombardi Trophy since 1973. Tua hopes to change that.