How strong is the New England Patriots-Alabama Crimson Tide pipeline?
We might find out one way or another during the 2021 NFL Draft when the Patriots might have the opportunity to draft or trade for a former Bama star quarterback.
In a recent mock draft from Pro Football Focus’ Eric Eager and George Chahrouri, the Patriots are projected to trade out of the first round for the second consecutive year. In this scenario, the Patriots’ trade partner would be the Houston Texans.
In Eager and Chahrouri’s bold mock, they have the Texans trading disgruntled quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins for a bevy of picks, including the No. 3 overall selection and Tua Tagovailoa. The Texans then decide to flip Tagovailoa to add another first-rounder, sending him to the Patriots in exchange for New England’s No. 15 selection.
The Patriots would have found their quarterback of the future and would still have nine more picks in the draft (including the expected haul of compensatory selections). That’s not a horrible concept unless you don’t believe in Tagovailoa as a franchise quarterback.
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Is Tua the Real Deal?
When a quarterback is drafted No. 5 overall, it’s because at least a few people believe he has what it takes to one day lead a team to the Super Bowl. After Tagovailoa’s first year with the Miami Dolphins, you could say he has more than a few doubters.
In January, the Miami Herald cited three unnamed Dolphins players who questioned if Tagovailoa was the kind of quarterback capable of leading a team to the promised land. Tagovailoa’s former college teammates Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith were asked who they preferred as a quarterback: Tagovailoa or rumored Patriots draft target in 2021 Mac Jones.
Both young men chose Jones. Smith wasted no time with his answer to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, and Waddle echoed his sentiments in a recent sit-down with the NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano.
Smith’s and Waddle’s answers could have been attributed to recency, but there appears to be a trend here. Tagovailoa may have a problem winning over his teammates at this stage of his career.
Is this something he can overcome? We don’t know, but we’re sure this tendency doesn’t reek of the kind of leader you want at quarterback.
Does Tua Put the Patriots in a Better Position Than Cam Newton?
In 2020, Tagovailoa played in 10 games. He started nine of those contests and pushed Miami to a 6-3 record in his starts. Tagovailoa completed 64% of his passes for 1,814 yards, 11 TDs and 5 INTs.
Those aren’t bad numbers for a rookie quarterback, but it should be noted that the Dolphins wound up going back to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in their Week 16 clash with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Tagovailoa was benched, and Fitzpatrick came on to rally Miami to a 26-25 win. The Dolphins went back to Tagovailoa in Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills, and they were trounced 56-26 in a game that saw the rookie picked off three times.
When you look at what Tagovailoa showed in his rookie season and compare it to what the Patriots got from Cam Newton in 2020, is there a massive difference? Now consider Newton is likely to be better in his second year with the offense, a full training camp, no COVID issue and improved weapons.
Tagovailoa would find himself in a new offense that would present a learning curve. Do we really think he’d perform better than Newton in his second season?
It seems unlikely, and it also seems far-fetched to think the Patriots would part ways with a first-round pick for an iffy second-year quarterback.
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