NFL Doctor: Less Than 10% Chance Tua Tagovailoa Plays Full Season in 2020

Jordan Cohn
April 20, 2020 - 5:46 pm

Tua Tagovailoa's draft stock has resembled a roller coaster in the months leading up to the draft.

After initial reports of good health and "overwhelmingly positive" test results following the combine, before coronavirus severely limited in-person exposure and testing for prospects, things seemed to be looking up for the Alabama quarterback. A top-five selection looked to be a no doubter.

Then, news came out that teams were in fact concerned with his health and with his physicals. That progressed to three teams completely dropping him from their draft boards. Just this morning, Peter King of NBC Sports had Tua going 13th overall, which is one of the lowest spots on the draft board we've seen him fall to at this point.

On Monday night, as part of the "You Better You Bet" Countdown to the Draft, former NFL head team doctor David Chao further reinforced the notion that Tua's health may come into play after Ross Tucker asked him to put a percent chance on Tua playing a full season for his prospective team. However, he took a different angle.

"Probably single digits -- closer to 1% than to 9%," Chao said, evaluating Tua's odds at playing through a full rookie season. "But that's not an answer to denigrate Tua.

"Name another quarterback that has been able to play every play, every week of his rookie contract. That’s a tall order. 50% of the starting quarterbacks of the league suffered an injury this last year alone, from Drew Brees to Ben Roethlisberger to Cam Newton."

Chao is right in that regard. 57 different quarterbacks started an NFL game in the 2019 regular season, and though not all of those were due to injuries to the starter, a very healthy amount was. But the way Chao phrases it makes it seem like it's not a concern, which supports his mindset on the matter throughout this whole process.

Chao doesn't think of Tua as "injury-prone" but instead thinks that his playing style may put him in harm's way more often than others.

"It’s a hazard of the sport -- a collision sport -- and obviously the more mobile you are, the more you extend plays and the higher the risk," Chao said. "The more you speed around corners and run through yellow lights, the more likelihood you’ll have a car accident."

Perhaps in Chao's view, instead of worrying about whether or not Tua is injury-prone, the question should be whether or not teams are willing to see their franchise quarterback miss time and perhaps reconstruct his playing style in order to limit injuries in the future. And we're sure this is something that will constantly be on the minds of the Dolphins, the Chargers and several other prospective organizations that could look to the quarterback as the future of their franchise.

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