NFL News: Tua vs. Herbert – Who Ya Got?

Tua Tagovailoa - Justin Herbert - Original photos by Streeter Lecka - Ronald Martinez /Getty Images/AFP

The NFL Draft will commence on Thursday, April 23rd and one of the first names called will be Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Who’s better and where are they going?

Tank for Tua

Before the 2019 college football season began, the top-rated player in college football was Alabama’s signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa. But a devastating hip injury derailed what was shaping up as another stellar campaign for the 2018 Heisman Trophy runner-up.

The common refrain in Miami was “Tank for Tua” but the Dolphins pulled off a slightly better than expected season and instead of getting the first overall pick in the draft, they slipped to No. 5 after winning three of their final five games to end with a 5-11 record. Ironically, had the Fins closed the curtain on the 2019 season with the worst record in football, it is a virtual lock they would do exactly what the Cincinnati Bengals plan to do with the top pick and select LSU’s, Joe Burrow.

The conventional wisdom is that the Bengals will be picking Joe Burrow while the Redskins will most likely opt for menacing defensive end Chase Young out of Ohio State with the second selection. But here’s where it gets a bit dicey. The Lions are in the third spot but will have plenty of suitors pining for their selection. The most likely scenario is that either the Dolphins (No. 5) or Chargers (No. 6) will use their draft collateral to swap first-round picks with Detroit in addition to whatever ransom the Lions demand to surrender the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

Many believe that Tua is the prize that the Dolphins and Chargers both covet and if we take a look at one of the many BetOnline NFL prop odds we see the following:

2nd QB Drafted

As you can see the margin is razor-thin between Tua and Herbert as to which quarterback gets selected after LSU’s Joe Burrow ostensibly goes first. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the Dolphins, Chargers, or even another team willing to render whatever Detroit deems acceptable for their third overall pick, could very well be locked on to different quarterbacks.

Tua vs. Herbert – Tale of the Tape

Tua Tagovailoa – University of Alabama

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/AFP
  • Height – 6’1”
  • Weight – 218 pounds
  • Age – 22
  • 2018 Season – 3966 passing yards, 43 passing TD’s, 5 Rushing TD’s, 6 interceptions, 69.0 completion percentage, 199.5 passer rating
  • 2019 Season – 2840 passing yards, 33 passing TD’s, 2 Rushing TD’s, 3 interceptions, 71.4 completion percentage, 206.9 passer rating

Justin Herbert – University of Oregon

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP
  • Height – 6’6”
  • Weight – 237 pounds
  • Age – 22
  • 2018 Season – 3151 passing yards, 29 passing TD’s, 2 Rushing TD’s, 8 interceptions, 59.4 completion percentage, 144.7 passer rating
  • 2019 Season – 3471 passing yards, 32 passing TD’s, 4 Rushing TD’s, 6 interceptions, 66.8 completion percentage, 156.8 passer rating

Let’s keep in mind that Tua played in only nine of 13 games for the Crimson Tide which obviously impacts his cumulative stats for 2019. And despite the fact that Tua has a national championship under his belt, John Clayton of the Washington Post reports, “There’s a feeling among many in the NFL that Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco prefers Herbert to Tagovailoa. That is largely based on Telesco’s draft history of preferring prospects who didn’t have injury histories in college.”

And there’s the rub if you want to take a gamble on a magician like Tua Tagovailoa over the prototypical big-armed gunslinger like 6’6” Justin Herbert. Tua does not have the height that many GMs prefer in a quarterback, although that stereotype is slowly fading with the advent of shorter, speedy QB’s like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray, not to mention the future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees. But more importantly, he has been injury-prone throughout his career and his latest trip to the surgeon’s table has given many, cause for pause.

So, which quarterback would you take if you were the general manager with Tua, Herbert, and even Justin Love available? I guess much of that would depend on where you’re selecting. If Herbert is selected first and Tua drops to the Jaguars at No. 9 then Jacksonville received a gift and won’t for a moment turn it away. However, if both are available, do we choose the one with the higher ceiling, Tua, or the bigger quarterback, Herbert, who is much more likely to be playing in 7 to 10 years?

Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball but if you want to read more then check out my NFL Draft columns for each team broken down by division. Make sure to do your homework on the draft before you put in your NFL picks on Thursday night and then we’ll see whether Tua or Herbert is considered the best bet to succeed at the next level.

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