That’s why many fans were pleasantly surprised when the Dolphins ended up selecting the University of Alabama star without hesitation.
As it turns out, all of the negative reports leading up to the draft were part of an elaborate smokescreen to keep other NFL teams off Miami’s trail.
“And I made sure to tell Miami GM Chris Grier when we talked on Sunday that he got me, and a lot of NFL people too, who thought he was either taking [Justin] Herbert or an offensive tackle—which, of course, was all part of the game,” SI.com’s Albert Breer wrote on Monday. “As it turned out, per Grier, going into Thursday, only a handful of people knew what the plan was, and that plan had been in place, believe it or not, for less than a week.
“Just days before the draft, the team had its final medical meeting, and that was actually when the doctors gave the football people the final go-ahead to take Tagovailoa. Part of it? Part was something that ex-NFL quarterback Brady Quinn brought up on my podcast last week—that Tagovailoa’s hip injury was a freak thing, and the two ankle surgeries he had, to fix high ankle sprains were basically elective procedures aimed at coming back quicker.”
Grier went on to explain that he and the Dolphins are very confident in Tagovailoa’s health going forward despite his checkered injury history.
“Yeah, we’re very comfortable,” Grier told me. “Really, it’s nothing different. We all know in this game, people get hurt. He’s had some injuries that people talk about, but the part that people miss is a couple of the surgeries he had, he was doing it to rush back sooner, to be with his teammates and play. Some people may have elected not to do it, and kind of ride it out. He handled adversity well and showed his mental toughness, and his work ethic to come back from those things.
“Our doctors and trainers did an outstanding job, like they do on every player. With him specifically, they did nothing above and beyond of the same thing they do. They checked all the boxes and made sure we were all comfortable and feeling good about it. Brian [Flores], myself, ownership, we were very comfortable with it.”
Finally, Grier asserted that the Dolphins knew they were going to select Tagovailoa if he did indeed end up falling to the No. 5 pick.
“If Tua was there, we were going to take him,” Grier said.
He added that when the time finally came, he and his staff trusted their preparation and their choice.
“You’ve done so much work on everything, so you feel good about everything,” Grier said. “It’s weird. It was a sense of calmness. We’ve done all our work, we felt good about our process, so we identified Tua as a guy that we wanted to take. When he was there, we felt very good about it. There was no apprehension or nervousness, we’re very excited to get a player we targeted at this spot. Yeah, it’s a key position. Everyone understands you got to have one to win in this league, and we felt good about Tua.
“There’s no nervousness or anything. We just thought he was the right guy.”
In the end, it all worked out perfectly for the Dolphins.
They managed to get their quarterback of the future and use their other two first-round picks to shore up positions of need as well.
While the Dolphins started out last season as one of the lesser teams in the NFL, they’ll likely start this upcoming season with quite a bit of excitement.
Although Tagovailoa isn’t expected to be the starter entering the 2020 season, he’s a big part of the reason why hopes are so high regarding the Dolphins’ future.