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Why Tua Tagovailoa would be the perfect QB for the Colts

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Citrus Bowl - Michigan v Alabama Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa took the country by storm with his impressive debut in the National Championship game in January 2018. Since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, he’s gone 425/607 (70%) for 6,806 yards (11.2 YPA) with 76 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions (8.4/1 TD/INT ratio). He’s also added 307 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns, showing good escapability in the process. He did all of this in 24 games.

In November 2019, he suffered a dislocated hip and posterior wall fracture. He also suffered a concussion and broken nose. This devastating injury ended his season and along with a lengthy recovery period put his draft stock in jeopardy. However, in recent weeks, there has been good news on his injury and recovery, with reports saying he’ll be able to throw (in a 40 minute workout) in April for NFL teams. This is extremely encouraging information, as training camps start in late July and preseason games in early August. That means he’ll have another 3-4 months to rest and recover after his throwing workout in April.


Accuracy & Touch

In this 6 clip sequence, you see 3 different types of throws:

  • Tua perfectly making a touch (also known as a bucket) throw where he drops the pass perfectly in the receiver’s hands.
  • An outward breaking route where he puts the ball outside the numbers in a spot where only the receiver can get it.
  • An inward breaking route where he leads the receiver and hits him in stride. The slant throw seen in the clip may not seem like a difficult throw but if that throw is slightly behind the receiver, then his momentum is killed and he doesn’t get that extra 15-20 yards.

Tua’s ball placement and touch is fantastic thanks to great timing and arm strength.

Arm Strength

In that 5 clip sample, you’ll see that Tua has a 55+ yard arm and can make throws to all areas of the field. He can zip it into tight windows with great velocity and can put 50+ yard passes on the money. The first three clips indicate his ability to stretch the field and the last two show the amount of zip he can put on outward and inward breaking routes.

Improvisational Skills & Athleticism

Tua might not run for 80-90 yards a game, but he has very underrated athleticism and can easily pick up some good yards with his legs. He’s also very agile and nimble in the pocket and can find the smallest of spaces to unleash a throw. In today’s NFL, the best young quarterbacks (Mahomes, Jackson, Watson, Prescott and Wilson even though he’s a vet) are all incredible scramblers who can buy time with their feet and can create plays outside the pocket. Tua shows in that 5 clip sample that he can do the same and is a perfect fit for today’s style of quarterbacking.

Similarities in the Style of Offense

The Crimson Tide ran a shotgun based, one-back offense almost 95% of the time with a blend of spread and pro-style concepts. They also ran a lot of 11 personnel.

This great video from Top Billin on Youtube demonstrates how well Tua is at picking up and executing NFL concepts in Alabama’s offense.

The video highlights Tua’s ability to execute play action with different pro style concepts (such as Flood) with great success. The video also shows his ability to manipulate defenders with good eye discipline and looking off defensive backs. Those are not things he executed very well in the spread system which he operated in 2018 under Mike Locksley. He has clearly taken a step forward in the mental processing department.

Mechanics Breakdown

Footwork — Footwork is as crisp as any quarterback in the last 5 draft classes. He executes 3, and 5 step drops very well. He sets himself well on his settle step (which is the final step in a drop). His play action footwork is also very crisp, as seen in the clips. He also has a very good base, with good knee bend and good foot spacing.

Throwing Motion — He possesses a very compact throwing motion that is around 0.4 seconds from start to finish, which is around the NFL average. For comparison sake, Aaron Rodgers’ throwing motion is around 0.3 seconds from start to finish. He shows a good “J motion” and there are no wasted motions in the takeaway or the follow through.

Weight Transfer — This is the one area I think he can improve slightly in. There are at least a few throws in the game where he isn’t fully stepping into his throws and it affects his power a bit. If he gets that down, he won’t need to take 1 or 2 hitches to put extra zip on throws.

Body Alignment — I would recommend to go back and look at his play action plays in general or in the clips above. You’ll see him properly execute a good play action, flip his hips, perfectly adjust his lower body and then his shoulders all within a second. He’s often tasked to throw a bubble pass out of play action and those throws are often difficult for quarterbacks since they need to go from a lateral to horizontal position very quickly out of a play action. Tua does this perfectly almost all the time, and that’s why his bubble passes (out of play action) are always on the money.

Overall — He would get a 9 out of 10 for his mechanics. He is very sound in that department and won’t need a quarterback coach to make any major overhauls.

What it Would Cost to Get Him

  • 2020 1st (13th Overall) Round Pick
  • 2020 2nd (44th Overall) Round Pick
  • 2021 1st Round Pick

To move up to 3rd Overall. With Joe Burrow being a lock for 1st overall and Chase Young being the likely pick at #2, the 3rd overall pick would be a very safe spot to get Tua.

Is it Worth the Trade Up?

You’re talking about a potential franchise quarterback for the next 10+ years, so I believe it’s worth the trade up. The quarterback is the most important position on the football field and it’s arguably the biggest need for the Colts right now. A very good quarterback would put the Colts over the top and depending on the quarterback play in 2020, could make the Colts serious contenders in the AFC.

The Colts are well set up with a great quarterback teacher in Frank Reich and a great offensive line that will prevent him from being knocked on his butt 20 times a game. Those two important keys dramatically improve the initial development and impact of a young quarterback.