Michael Lombardi is a former GM with decades of experience working in NFL personnel departments and presumably has a lot of contacts in front offices around the league. More importantly to me personally, he's one of Bill Belichick's closest friends and colleagues. So when he reports something that will shake up the top of the first round of the draft, I'm all ears.
Tua Tagovailoa flunking multiple physicals isn't a shake up. It's a seismic event. A 7.9 magnitude quake, given that the kid is expected to go in the Top 10 at least. And most likely to Miami with the fifth pick. But that's exactly what Lombardi is saying. That at least two teams at the top of the first round have flunked him. Badly.
“What they saw, is they saw that it’s more than one [injury]. It’s not just his hip. It’s his ankle, it’s his wrist. He broke his wrist the first day of spring ball one year. Then they fixed it, he came back and he broke it again. I mean he’s brittle. He is brittle. You can’t deny it. …
“I'm not disputing the evaluation. They flunked him on not just the hip, on the multitude of injuries. Like the risk far outweighs the reward.
Holy moly. Here's a guy who's legitimately been drawing comparisons to Drew Brees, as a slightly smallish but legitimate dual-threat quarterback with a ton of winning on his resume. And now it sounds like he's drawing comparisons to Samuel L. Jackson in "Glass." Big, if true. Which I assume it is.
Otherwise, if it's just fake news being put out there by a team with a later pick hoping to scare the others off so he'll drop, it's the second cruelest thing I can imagine for the guy. The cruelest is that it turns out to be true. In which case it's costing him millions in guaranteed money as well as the chance to step in as a Day 1 starter and the face of a franchise.
Anyway, the butterfly effect of this will be felt way beyond just the first round. It'll mean lesser graded QBs moving up boards. Teams that might have gone for a starter looking at another position instead or dropping down. And possibly a team that currently feels like they have a starter maybe seeing the chance to get a potential future All Pro on the cheap. Someone with the luxury of stashing him on the depth chart for a year or so to see how he recovers.
Not mentioning any names. But maybe there's someone out there who's close to Tagovailoa's college coach and who likes to make trades and big risk/reward moves on draft day.
If there's ever been a GM more willing to take a flyer on a guy who drops due to an injury history in college, it's this guy. Sometimes it's a bad swing & a miss, like Ras-IR Dowling or Dominique Easley. Sometimes it's a walk off grand slam, like Rob Gronkowski. I hope for Tua's sake some doctor clears him and he still gets taken high. But if he ends up being the next great bargain in New England, that'd be the next best thing.