Tua Tagovailoa has heard plenty of questions pertaining to the health of his surgically repaired hip leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, but the former Alabama star quarterback has made it clear he is ready to return to the football field.
Perhaps in a bid to stem some of the talk that he might not be one of the top two quarterbacks chosen on April 23, Tagovailoa told NFL Network on Wednesday he is fully healed and ready to compete from the surgery that occurred in November and ended what turned out to be his final college football season.
“I feel 100 percent,” Tagovailoa said. “I feel like if there was a game today, I’d be able to go out and perform the same way I was able to perform in previous years. I feel as mobile as possible. I feel 100 percent.”
Heisman Trophy winner and former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to be selected by the Bengals with the top pick, while Oregon’s Justin Herbert could also be chosen within the first five selections. Some mock draft experts have said Tagovailoa will be picked either at No. 3 by the Lions or by the Dolphins at No. 5.
Tagovailoa’s stock appeared to take a hit on Tuesday, when Bleacher Report’s NFL draft analyst Matt Miller said “multiple teams” now prefer Justin Herbert over Tagovailoa “because of injuries and the unknown.”
Tagovailoa shrugged that off a day later.
“I have no control over the circumstance or situation,” Tagovailoa said. “If I was healthy, if I wasn’t, I would have no control. So, the best thing I can do is continue to work. Whatever team decides to choose me, I would be grateful.”
Tagovailoa was likely on pace to become a Heisman Trophy finalist, along with possibly securing the top pick in the NFL Draft before the 22-year-old suffered the season-ending injury against Mississippi State on Nov. 16. The strong-armed quarterback threw for 2,840 yards in his junior season with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions in nine games.
NFL teams likely are still concerned Tagovailoa may not be at full strength, and they haven’t been able to visit with the quarterback because of quarantine conditions set by the league due by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tagovailoa is trying to address those concerns in a few ways.
The quarterback’s agent, Chris Cabott of Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, said earlier in the week Tagovailoa has been cleared by doctors to return without restrictions. Clips of Tagoivailoa’s workouts have been all over social media, and he currently is being tutored by former Super Bowl winner Trent Dilfer.
Tagovailoa said he has set up virtual meetings with teams he didn’t disclose.