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Tua Tagovailoa: ‘I’m still not too sure’ about entering 2020 NFL Draft

The first round of the NFL Draft faces one significant piece of uncertainty for the time being.

Tua Tagovailoa of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up before a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Starkville, Mississippi. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft is nearly five months away, but we already have our first bit of controversy. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is sidelined the rest of the 2019 season due to a dislocated hip, and is not certain if he will enter the 2020 NFL Draft or if he will return to Alabama for one more season.

Tagovailoa dislocated his hip in mid-November and is projected to be able to take part in football activities sometime next spring. It gives him time to get healthy for the 2020 season, but his likely inability to take part in a full Pro Day and questions about his hip could cost him in the draft.

Underclassmen have until January 20th to declare for the NFL Draft. Tagovailoa could declare, get drafted, and work with an NFL training staff. Or, he could come back to Alabama for another year, work with their high quality training staff, potentially play next fall in Tuscaloosa or sit out the season, and then enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

Tagovailoa sat down with the Tuscaloosa News this week to discuss his options.

“There is a risk and a reward if I stay and a risk and a reward if I go,” Tagovailoa said. “The risk if I stay is obviously ‘Do I get hurt again?’ The reward is that I could come back and have another good year like my sophomore year and elevate myself back to the very top of the (NFL) draft.

“If I leave, I think the risk is a little higher. That risk would be how far do I drop in the draft. To me, it’s 50-50 between going in the first round and possibly going in the second round. If I go somewhere from first (overall) to around 24th, the money will be set. But let’s say — and I am just picking a number — that I go to the 31st pick. That would be about 9 million dollars. That’s a lot of money, an amount of money I’ve never had before, but it’s not high first-round money and you can never make that money up. They say you can (make it up) on your next contract but money lost is money lost to me.”

Tagovailoa has seven weeks to make his decision. His team will likely reach out to NFL teams to try and get a handle on where he might go, but it’s entirely unpredictable given that nobody will have to make any sort of firm commitment to him. A high picking team might offer him assurances, but he could decide it’s simply not worth the risk for the time being.

There are plenty of teams that will need to invest in the quarterback position, and it would be an upset if he did not go in the first round. The hip is a concern, but for NFL teams, the first round pick brings with it a fifth year option that is incredibly valuable for a quarterback. It pushes off a potential nine figure contract by a year and gives a team a chance to be as close to absolutely sure as they can be about the investment.

But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the next seven weeks brings.