Former NFL GM worries about Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa’s lack of ‘elite skills’

Tua Tagovailoa Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is having a strong season, but there are still some who doubt that he can get to the next level and become truly elite.

One of those pundits is Mike Lombardi, the former general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

“What I see with Tua is what I thought I saw at Alabama; I worry about having elite skills,” Lombardi — who was an executive with the Eagles and Raiders and now a podcaster and a writer for The Athletic — told WQAM’s Joe Rose Show. “I don’t see elite skills, I don’t see an elite arm, and I don’t see an elite athlete. I see an elite instinctive player. I see somebody who’s accurate on a lot of short throws.

“I see somebody that can operate within a read-option offense effectively but I think if it becomes a drop back pass game and he has to stay back in the pocket I see a small player who plays smaller when he has to play behind the center.”

In nine games this season, Tagovailoa has looked solid, and at times even impressive. On the other hand, he has thrown for only 10 touchdowns, and his passer rating of 93.2 could use some improvement.

At the same time, Justin Herbert, who was chosen one slot behind him in this year’s NFL draft, has been a revelation for the Los Angeles Chargers and is among the league leaders in several categories.

Tagovailoa was pulled from Saturday’s contest against the Las Vegas Raiders and replaced by backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins managed to squeak by for a huge win, 26-25.