With the 2020 NFL Draft being 5 days away, the idea of the Miami Dolphins taking a quarterback with the first of their three first-round picks has become much more realistic.
The Dolphins have a league-high 14 draft picks, starting with the fifth overall selection next Thursday night.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. dropped former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s out of the No. 5 spot and has selected Oregon QB Justin Herbert to be drafted by the Dolphins in his recent mock draft. Kiper still has the former All-SEC quarterback being selected No. 6 overall by the Los Angeles Chargers.
During a recent appearance on ESPN program “First Take” Kiper was asked why he believed the Dolphins would pass on Tua and go to the Chargers at No. 6.
“Injuries in college translate to injuries in the pros for quarterbacks. That’s the big concern with Tua and that’s why I think Justin Herbert jumps into that fifth spot,” Kiper answered.
The question remains who the Dolphins will take at 5th overall. Tua or Herbert?
I graded both quarterbacks based on attributes that I find the most essential in a franchise quarterback: accuracy, efficiency, scrambling, clutch gene, and leadership.
Both Tagovailoa and Herbert are solidly accurate at the short to intermediate levels of the field, but Tagovailoa has slightly better ball placement.
In 2018, Tagovailoa had the highest percentage of passes charted with perfect ball placement of any Power-5 quarterback according to Pro Football Focus. Only Jake Fromm and Joe Burrow surpassed him in 2019, but he was still extremely accurate.
Although it may not mean much, Tagovailoa completed 69% of his throws last season to Herbert’s 59.4%. Herbert is accurate, but inconsistent. Much like a young Ryan Tannehill.
Tua also has the advantage over Herbert when throwing deep-balls. According to Sports Info Solutions, Tua was on target on 64.8% of his throws (23rd place) and made 20 or more yards downfield. Herbert’s on-target rate on those deep balls was 55.4% (77th place).
Tua has a much better ball placement despite not having the arm strength of Herbert. Tua’s ability to lead his receiver to the deep ball while placing it in a spot where the defender isn’t in the vicinity is unreal.
Per ESPN, Tagovailoa is the most efficient quarterback in college football history with a 199.4 career passer efficiency. He has the best career touchdown-interception ratio (7.91, 87 TDs to 11 INTs) in FBS history with a minimum of 70 passing touchdowns. He also has the best QBR (93.5) and yards per attempt (10.88) of any quarterback since at least 2004.
Herbert has a 153.1 career passing efficiency grade, a 76 QBR, an 8.15 yards per attempt ratio and a 4.13 TD-to-INT rate.
Its nearly impossible to find a 6-foot-6, 236-pound quarterback that has a 4.68-second 40-yard dash, 35.5-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-3 broad jump. Herbert has the ability to escape pressure and either deliver an accurate pass on the run or scramble for additional yards.
His mobility isn’t elite, but he possesses above average foot speed, which makes him a threat, much like Ryan Tannehill.
Tua’s small frame and tendency to get injured will hold him back from participating in designed runs at the next level.
Tagovailoa possesses that ‘IT’ factor and has consistently come through in the clutch. Most notably in the 2018 National Championship when he delivered a 41-yard strike to win it all.
On the contrary, Herbert has struggled in big games. In the three biggest games of Herbert’s 2019 season (Week 1 vs. Auburn, Pac-12 Championship vs. Utah and the Rose Bowl vs. Wisconsin), All three were among his four worst single-game grades of the season and combined to make up a 58.2 overall grade per PFF.
Tua Tagovailoa is as humble as it gets. After producing the single-greatest passing season of any Alabama quarterback ever, Tua told the media there’s still a lot to prove during SEC media days.
“T think I still have to prove my role as a leader on the team,” said Tagovailoa.
The Crimson Tide’s staff and players loved working with Tagovailoa, as he built personal relationships with as many of his teammates as possible. “It’s just the little things like showing up to breakfast and lunch, and whoever’s in there you go and sit with them,” Tagovailoa said. “And then when it comes time to go into the training room, even if I don’t have treatment, just go in there and build more relationships with other guys.”
It took a while for Justin Herbert to step out of his comfort zone and become a vocal leader at the University of Oregon.
“I’m a different person, to be honest,” Herbert said at the NFL Combine. “The kid who showed up at the University of Oregon isn’t me anymore.. I’ve become more outgoing and there are things that you have to do to be the quarterback. The way the quarterback carries himself, I think I’ve done a great job of becoming that over the last four years.”
Many have grown concerns on Herbert’s ability to win over a locker room in the NFL. It does appears that his personality/leadership has grown over time, most notably at the Senior Bowl.
In 5 days, the Miami Dolphins will have to choose their franchise quarterback of the future. When analyzing both quarterbacks, the skill gap is enormous. Looking at the film and numbers, Tua plays the quarterback position better than everyone in the draft not named Joe Burrow.
It comes down to whether Chris Grier and Brian Flores want to take a high-risk, high-reward prospect in Tagovailoa, or pass on the risk because of his health concerns and go with Herbert.