Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the most talked about player in the entire NFL Draft. And more so because of injury concerns opposed to his skill.
Over the last few weeks, Mike Lombardi has reported Tagovailoa has failed some team's physicals. On The GM Shuffle podcast this week, he got a little defensive in saying he isn't doing this reporting to benefit close friend Bill Belichick and also said Tagovailoa doesn't meet the Patriots' criteria for QBs.
“It was the fifth metatarsal. That is what he broke the first day of spring ball," he said. "Then he had that fixed and he re-broke that again. So look, you can’t deny the injuries. As we talked about last week, you can’t. I have talked to more and more teams and this whole notion that Lombardi is spreading this bad will about Tua because he wants his friend Bill Belichick to get him, like stop. I know that based on the Patriots’ grading system a six-foot quarterback would have to be really, really elite over a long period of time for them to draft him.
“What fans don’t understand is there’s grading systems within every team. Some of them are elaborate, some of them aren’t. You can tell the teams that do a lot of work on them. We spent a lot of time on a grading system. The Giants started the system. Actually, the system started with the Dallas Cowboys with Gil Brandt. Bucko Kilroy of the New England Patriots, he took it. Dick Steinberg, all these guys they kind of modified it. Belichick and I, as you read the foreword he wrote in my book, we spent a lot of time in Cleveland on it, talking about how we could modify it. We wanted to be a size, speed team. We wanted to have a limit on how high you could grade players based on the limitations that they had. We wanted a system that was conducive to elimination not finding.
“When people throw that out there that Tua at six feet tall is an easy target for the Patriots, stop. Because knowing their system it is hard to get that grade high enough for him to get up there.”
The Patriots are picking at No. 23 overall and would likely need to trade up several spots if they had interest in Tagovailoa.