Should the Dolphins take Justin Herbert over Tua Tagovailoa?

Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
Photo Credit: Kyle Geopano

The Miami Dolphins were “tanking for Tua” long before Joe Burrow emerged as the consensus number one pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and before Justin Herbert surged up draft boards in 2019. The Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa have been paired up in nearly every credible mock draft that has come out for months, but for Miami, there may be a better option.

The Dolphins are looking to find their new franchise quarterback in the upcoming draft. Justin Herbert could be a better option for Miami than Tua.

While this may be blasphemous to those who find the former Alabama quarterback infallible, there is a concrete case to be made for drafting Justin Herbert.

For starters, the biggest red flag in Tua’s game is the injuries that have recently become a major problem. Tagovailoa was only able to play in nine games for the Crimson Tide in 2019. Persistent injuries could outweigh Tua’s incredible talent, but Herbert has been a different story.

Despite getting injured in 2017, Herbert was able to remain healthy during 2018 and 2019, not missing a game. Even if Tua is more talented than Herbert, the Dolphins would be better off banking on the more consistent option. Herbert stands to be in the lineup at a far more predictable rate than Tua.

On top of better injury luck, Herbert has also been able to provide a much larger body of work than Tagovailoa. Tua was pegged as a first-round pick after playing only one half of football, albeit in the comeback win versus Georgia in the 2018 National Championship. That game may have been great, but that was still far too soon to forecast Tua’s entire career.

It should be lost on no one that Tua had some of the best weapons in all of college football. Former Alabama quarterbacks have also succeeded in that system which is consistently packed with the best talent in the country.

Herbert has gradually been building his resume. He never received the same amount of buzz as Tua, but he has shown consistent growth in college. That growth is much harder to pass off as a fluke and bodes well for NFL success.

One great season may be enough to determine that a prospect is a fit for the NFL like with Burrow. Being able to maintain improvements like Herbert in a mediocre system is also a good indication of NFL success. Gradual improvements could outweigh a small sample size of higher success as in the case of Tua.

In the end, the biggest things that NFL teams are looking for in their prospects are talent, health, and overall quality of work while in college. Herbert has the advantage over Tagovailoa in at least two of these categories. Tua’s ceiling may be slightly higher than Herbert’s, but his floor is also far lower. Taking Tua is a bigger gamble for the Dolphins than drafting Herbert. Betting big sometimes pays off, but it could set a team up to lose it all.

The Dolphins were surprisingly successful in 2019 regardless of any perceived tanking. They also have a wealth of draft picks to help their team take the next steps in 2020. By pivoting away from drafting Tua to draft Herbert, the Dolphins will receive a far more consistent player. There is also a likely chance that the Dolphins could trade back in the first round to draft Herbert.

This move may not be popular amongst Dolphins fans as Tagovailoa is the more popular name, but Herbert checks more of the boxes and would be the safer choice for the Miami Dolphins.


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