Smokescreen? Report says Dolphins might not prefer Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5

Yahoo Sports

Your annual reminder: Any NFL draft news you hear between now and April 23 needs to be examined closely and consumed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Teams will strategically leak “news” of all kinds, whether it’s to trash a prospect they secretly like (not cool, but it happens) or give hints about their plans that may or may not be true.

That leads us to the Miami Dolphins and what seemed to be a foregone conclusion for the fifth pick.

The Dolphins have been linked to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for most of the past year. But a Miami Herald column, a week before the NFL scouting combine, said the team might be cooler on him than widely assumed. Hmm.

Do Miami Dolphins prefer Justin Herbert?

Veteran Herald columnist Armando Salguero wrote a column with the headline: “Miami Dolphins’ current view of Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert might surprise you.”

In the column, Salguero writes that “the club’s view of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is not of a slam-dunk pick near the top the draft.” Also, “the club has an increasingly positive view of Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.”

He cited “sources familiar with the club’s thinking.”

Salguero wrote that Tagovailoa isn’t a certainty for the Dolphins because of concerns over his hip injury and his long-term durability. Herbert helped himself with some good Senior Bowl practices.

It’s not outlandish to think the Dolphins would be scared off by Tagovailoa’s durability. It’s just tough to figure out if that’s the truth or if someone is planting seeds of doubt to help the Dolphins’ leverage.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) will be a key figure in the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) will be a key figure in the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Where will Tua Tagovailoa go?

The Dolphins are in a good but uncomfortable spot in the draft.

Theoretically they should be able to get a prime quarterback prospect at No. 5. Assuming LSU quarterback Joe Burrow goes No. 1, the Washington Redskins could at least take calls for the second pick, though Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young seems like the eventual pick. Then the Dolphins start sweating.

The Detroit Lions at No. 3 and the New York Giants at No. 4 don’t need a quarterback. But without an obvious standout after Young you assume those picks can be moved, though Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has never traded down in the first round of the draft. Moving up to take a quarterback can be expensive. While the Dolphins have plenty of draft capital, ideally they’d like to stay put at No. 5 and take their quarterback. Whoever it is.

By sending out a message that they’re worried about Tagovailoa, it’s harder for the Lions or Giants to hold the Dolphins’ feet to the fire and make them pay up to move up for Tagovailoa. Maybe the concern is legitimate. Maybe it’s not. You never know this time of year.

This is the first of many rumors and reports we’ll hear about the Dolphins’ plans at No. 5. Good luck trying to figure out what they’re really thinking.

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