The Dolphins will have a close eye on news from Tua Tagovailoa’s camp Monday, when he could be cleared to resume full football activities.
Notes, quotes and random thoughts with the NFL Combine and Indianapolis in the rearview mirror as we race toward pro days and the NFL Draft:
* The Tua watch: The next big days for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — and the Dolphins — are this coming Monday and April 9.
Tagovailoa, recovering from hip surgery, expects doctors to clear him to resume football activities Monday, which is why he didn’t work out at the Combine.
“It allows me to do everything,” Tagovailoa said of the final OK. “This rehab process has been gradually getting up as far as workouts with what we’ve been doing. Just strengthening all the parts around the hip, the glute, hamstring, quad. Just being able to be ready that once March 9 hits and we’re cleared to go, I’ll be able to do everything.”
That will give him a month to get in shape for his pro day, April 9.
The hunch here: The Dolphins do grab Tagovailoa, but only after trading up to No. 3 with Detroit.
* One can wish, eh? Can’t help but picture someone in the Dolphins’ organization monitoring Joe Burrow’s media session in Indy and praying that when the inevitable question came up — Will you play for the Bengals if they draft you? — that he’d say, “No way.” Naturally, he said just the opposite.
* In Love with Jordan? A fashionable name to toss around belongs to Utah State’s Jordan Love. While he might prove to be a fine NFL quarterback, nobody can predict that with any degree of confidence today.
Love did some good things at the Combine. He did some good things for Utah State. He wasn’t blessed with great protection and his receivers didn’t always gain separation, leading him to attempt to thread too many needles.
Last season, Love’s best games included 388 yards against Fresno State, 317 yards and three TDs against Kent State, 294 against Stony Brook and 416 with three TDs against Wake Forest.
The level of competition in the Mountain West forces GMs to put a magnifying glass to this. Love had issues when he stepped up to Power 5 competition, throwing three interceptions in that Wake Forest game and managing 150 yards, no TDs and three INTs against LSU. Yes, Love wasn’t the only one to get eaten alive by the Tigers. It’s just unfortunate we don’t have more evidence of what he can do vs. major colleges.
In 13 games last season, Love had 20 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. His passer rating was 129.1, a regression from 158.3 in 2018.
* One certainty for Round 1: The Dolphins cannot make three picks in the first round and not come away with an offensive lineman, preferably a right tackle (if they land Tua) or left tackle (any other QB).
* The receiver question: Lots of speculation that the Dolphins will go for a receiver in Round 1, which is interesting given that the receiving corps might be the deepest unit on the team when healthy. It’s those last few words that are the key.
Deerfield Beach’s Jerry Jeudy won’t fall to Miami at No. 18, but if the Dolphins do take a receiver when they have so many needs elsewhere, it’ll be at least some reflection on Preston Williams’ recovery from knee surgery.
Coach Brian Flores may have been sending a message to Williams during the Combine: “He’s working hard. He’s doing everything he can to get back as quickly as possible. I thought he played OK last year. There’s always room for improvement. I think he’s taking steps to make those improvements.”
Williams was on pace for 856 yards as an undrafted rookie last year. Or, in Flores’ eyes, he was “OK.”
* Wait till the midnight hour: Image I won’t forget at the Combine: Was taking the skywalk back to the hotel around midnight one cold night. There were a handful of players stretching and working out in the hallway. I chatted with one of their trainers. He said they had to use the skywalk because the Convention Center was closed.
He said they would be working until 1 a.m.
I asked what time the guys had to get up.
“They’ll sleep in, so they won’t have to get up until 6:30.”
Yeah, they make good money, but don’t forget they have to work for it.
* Low blow: I get that there are smokescreens this time of year. What I don’t get are some of the signals coming out of Washington, where coach Ron Rivera, whom I respect, expressed confidence that QB Dwayne Haskins will come around. But one radio host, citing an unnamed source with the organization, tweeted a derogatory item questioning Haskins’ ability to learn.
Excuse me, but something as sensitive as that requires way more than one unnamed source, not to mention a chance for Haskins and his camp to defend themselves. It’s unprofessional and cheap.
All this affects Miami, of course, because the early assumption was that Washington, with the second pick, was likely to take edge rusher Chase Young and not factor into the QB scramble.
* Washing my hands of this: Glad to see the NFL changing up some of the questionable drills players do at the Combine, although I still looked on as quarterbacks ran the 40 wondering, uh, why?
Most ridiculous mini-story of the week was that Burrow’s hands are only 9 inches!! To all the GMs fixated on such things (hint: the number is approximately zero), I’ll point out that Patrick Mahomes’ hands are only a quarter of an inch bigger — and so are the hands of the immortal Dolphins QB, Pat White. Cross one item off my bucket list. I actually managed to write Patrick Mahomes and Pat White in the same sentence.
* The 17-game thing: If there’s money to be made, it has the NFL’s attention. So the 17-game season and the extra playoff games seem likely under the new CBA. It’ll also mean more money for players, but for some teams it’ll mean two extra games, not one, which raises the injury risk.
Oh, but they’re subtracting one exhibition game, so it balances out? How many regulars play in those things anymore, anyway?
Here’s the other concern: Today, it’s 17 games. Years down the road, someone’s going to whine that 17 is an odd number and 18 (with two exhibition games) sounds better.
* The Romo deal: You can’t not like Tony Romo as an analyst, but the $17 million he’s raking in annually from CBS?
Let’s put it in these terms: Christian Wilkins, Davon Godchaux, Josh Rosen, Mike Gesicki, Jerome Baker, Daniel Kilgore, Michael Deiter, Jason Sanders, Preston Williams. What do they have in common? They’re making less than Romo. Not just individually — collectively.
Or, if you want to go the veteran route, Romo is raking in more than the combined paydays of Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeVante Parker and Eric Rowe.
Then again, how many of them can watch a game and predict what’s about to happen?
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