The top of the 2020 NFL Draft got thrown into doubt when Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated and fractured his hip against Mississippi State in November.
Tagovailoa was considered the top quarterback prospect in the nation for most of the season, but the meteoric rise of Joe Burrow added a second name to that list. That was a really good position for the New York Giants, who were unlikely to hold the top pick in the draft by the time all was said and done. The Giants don’t need to draft a quarterback this year, but the position is always high sought after, which could create an active trade market or push other top prospects down to the Giants.
But then Tagovailoa’s injury changed things. We didn’t know until January whether or not he would even declare for the draft, and even then the nature of his injury put his draft stock in question.
But it seems that Tagovailoa is recovering remarkably well from his injury. He was able to walk at the NFL Scouting Combine without assistance, and this week released via his Twitter account a video of himself throwing.
Visual evidence of Tagovailoa dropping, moving laterally, and throwing with good velocity is potentially great news for the Giants.
When healthy, Tagovailoa is obviously a cut above Oregon’s Justin Herbert , who is the third top quarterback prospect in this year’s draft. But even so, having a trio of top prospects available opens up a few favorable scenarios for the Giants.
We have been calling (okay, screaming) for the Giants to trade down for years now, but this year it finally looks as though the stars have aligned for it to happen. General manager Dave Gettleman said earlier in the offseason that the Giants are “open for business” with regards to a possible trade down. However, any deal takes (at least) two teams and a target to get done. The Giants can say they want to trade down, but if they can’t find a team willing to trade up, no deal is going to get done. While the Giants might not have Tagovailoa available at fourth overall to dangle as trade bait, Herbert might be that guy. And this year there are several teams with both the need and the capital to strike a deal to move up for either player.
Such a move would allow the Giants to add talent at multiple positions with premium picks, a strategy executed to perfection by the Indianapolis Colts in 2018. That year the Colts traded back with the New York Jets for three second-round picks, netting themselves Quenton Nelson, Braden Smith, Kemoko Turay, and Rock Ya-Sin by the time all was said and done.
While the Giants certainly had issues with coaching under Pat Shurmur, they also simply did not have enough good players on the roster. Adding addition picks on the first and second days of the draft will help fix that problem.
Blue chip options
The other scenario a healthy Tagovailoa opens up is pushing one — or both — of the “Blue Chip” non-quarterbacks down to the Giants.
It is entirely possible that two quarterbacks are drafted in the first three picks this draft. In that scenario one of Chase Young or Jeffrey Okudah slip to the Giants at fourth overall. While the Giants added James Bradberry in free agency and invested heavily in the secondary last year, they should still consider Okudah if available. He has ideal size, good athleticism, is very fluid with a high floor and ceiling in press, man, off, and zone coverage. No team in the history of ever has had the problem of “too many good cornerbacks.”
Then there’s the scenario which seemed like a Hail Mary a couple months ago. Quarterbacks are drafted 1-2-3 this year and Young falls into the Giants’ lap. The Giants’ pass rush has been anemic at best lately, and that puts additional pressure on a very young secondary to hold up — something it failed to do entirely too often last year. Young to the Giants was basically written in stone up until the last month of the 2019 season. It is rare that the best player in the draft, who plays a premium position, falls to a team with a dire need.
Then the Giants won enough games to seemingly put themselves out of the running for Young.
Only now it seems the possibility has opened back up. There was talk around the Combine that the Washington Redskins could draft Tagovailoa themselves if he is healthy — or the Miami Dolphins could offer to trade up. Either scenario could convince a team like the Los Angeles Chargers or Jacksonville Jaguars to trade up to third overall for Justin Herbert.
This is, obviously, still the least-likely way things will play out. However, it’s still more likely than it was a little more than a month ago.
Whichever way this works out, having Tagovailoa healthy and another top quarterback prospect available is good news for the Giants.