The New England Patriots have been linked to Tua Tagovailoa, but with the No. 23 pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Alabama QB will likely be out of reach.
Because the Patriots are almost certain to select a QB in this year’s draft and Tagovailoa is one of the most intriguing prospects based on his talent and injury history, there is speculation about the team trading up to get him.
There are some aggressive trade-up scenarios that we’ll discuss, but here is one from long-time draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. who insists the Patriots have done a lot of research on Tagovailoa.
Mel Kiper Jr. Says the Patriots Have Done Their Research on Tagovailoa
Sitting in on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Friday, Kiper said this when asked where he believes Tagovailoa would be selected:
It’s going to be the million-dollar question. That’s the whole intrigue and the element of the draft that you just can’t figure is these types of things. You hear people, and I know everyone is screaming that Tua has to go high, you have to take that risk. And then you hear people in the league saying he could fall and everybody is doing their due diligence, including the Patriots. You can rest assured if he gets into the middle of the first round and you’re sitting there at No. 23, wouldn’t you jump up and maybe get him? You know the connection with Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. And I know how Nick feels about Tua.
That’s a ringing endorsement and is born from one of the most respected draft prognosticators the league has ever known. Because the Patriots are showing interest it adds some potential fire to the smoke signals that have been sent over the past few weeks.
Kiper went on to say:
If you go from Tom Brady to Tua, a healthy Tua. Now, that is the thing — can you keep him healthy? People say, ‘Well, everybody gets hurt.’ Quarterbacks don’t get hurt. Brady had the one injury when (Matt) Cassel came in. (Dan) Marino had the Achilles one year. Most of these quarterbacks, Eli (Manning) played forever, (Philip) Rivers, (John) Elway, (Jim) Kelly, when do these guys get hurt? The quarterbacks, when do they get hurt? This guy has had significant injuries, so to me, if he starts slipping a little bit, sliding down, where it happened with Aaron Rodgers not that long ago, and he was projected to be No. 1 two weeks before that draft and he went in the 20s, yes, if it did happen, I would think New England would be aggressive to try and go up and get him.
The plot thickens.
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More Aggressive Trade Scenarios for Tua to the Patriots
Moving up from 23 to say 15 obviously won’t require as many assets as getting all the way up to the Top 5, which is where some believe Tagovailoa will be selected.
In the event, there are no signs of Tagovailoa slipping into the middle of the first round, and the Patriots are sold on him as a player and willing to take a chance from a durability standpoint, what would the team need to give up to draft Tua in the Top 5?
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus believes the Patriots would need to part with the No. 23, 87, 98 and a 2021 first and second-round selection to move into the Top 5, perhaps in a deal with the Detroit Lions. That’s a hefty price to pay for any rookie, and seemingly even more of a bad idea for one with Tagovailoa’s injury red flags.
The Patriots would be better suited waiting until the third round or trading up into the second round to take someone like Jordan Love or James Morgan. They could even wait until the fourth round to select prospects like Jake Fromm or Nate Stanley. After all, Jarred Stidham could still turn out to be everything the team needs at QB.