Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is expected to make a full recovery, six days after hip surgery. But a full recovery is simply the beginning of the questions that will continue to swirl.
Stories supporting the notion that Tagovailoa will be fine are emerging, with predictable assurances and guarantees that, for example, Tagovailoa is more likely to be mauled by a bear than to suffer from avascular necrosis, the Bo Jackson condition that ended a potential two-sport Hall of Fame career with a hip replacement. (People who actually have been mauled by a bear also were more likely to suffer from avascular necrosis.)
But that won’t stop NFL teams from poking and prodding and digging. They’ll need to first be sure that he’s indeed fine. Even if he is, several General Managers recently expressed to PFT concerns about Tagovailoa’s long-term durability, given that he has now suffered three lower-body injuries at the college level. So even if this one will heal, it’s the next one (and the next one) that teams need to be thinking about, especially since he’s an athletic quarterback who will be swapping college-level hits for NFL-level hits.
One G.M. suggested that Tagovailoa could still be one of the first names called in April, even if he needs a season to fully recover from the hip injury. He’d simply get the redshirt season that used to be the norm for first-round quarterbacks, but that has more recently become the exception (e.g., Patrick Mahomes).
Another G.M. suggested that Tagovailoa may simply stay at Alabama for another year, using 2020 as the opportunity to prove to everyone that he’s fine — even if he risks other injuries in the process.
Whatever he does, he’ll need to make a decision fairly soon. If he’s going to leave Alabama for the draft, the deadline comes in the middle of January. And Tagovailoa may not have the cleanest, clearest picture as to his status and prognosis when the time comes to head to the next level or stay put.