When the Miami Dolphins went on the clock with the fifth pick in the 2020 draft, they could have taken either quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or quarterback Justin Herbert. They chose Tua. They considered Herbert.
“[W]e met with him several times,” coach Brian Flores told L.A. media on Wednesday. “The first one was at the Senior Bowl. He’s very smart, very talented, a driven kid, competitive, tough. There is a lot to like about him.”
Flores also was asked about the questions that lingered regarding Herbert.
“I don’t know what questions you’re talking about,” Flores said, showing once again that he learned a thing or two while working for Bill Belichick. “That was a long time ago. Now we’re eight games into the season. There was training camp, COVID, there’s a lot going on. I’m not really quite sure what the questions are you’re talking about, but what I saw is what I just told you, which is he’s a competitive kid, he’s smart, a big arm, talented and the Chargers got a good player.”
The primary questions related to whether and to what extent he’d thrive so far away from Oregon, the state where he was born and raised. So far, Herbert has shown that any such concerns were overblown.
Regardless, the fact that the Dolphins passed on Herbert and the Chargers took him with the very next pick creates a natural apples-to-apples comparison, one that will last throughout their careers.
“I just think that’s just something that’s going to have to be dealt with in the media,” Tagovailoa told reporters on Wednesday regarding the Tua vs. Herbert discussion. “I have no animosity towards Justin Herbert and for me, it’s not even a competition between me and him; it’s a competition for myself to go out and see what I can do to help our team be successful against their defense. And I’m pretty sure it’s the same for Justin as well.”
Indeed it is, but it would be foolish not to be aware of the inevitable question of whether the Dolphins made the right call, much like the questions that lingered 22 years ago, when the Colts took Peyton Manning and the Chargers took Ryan Leaf.
It’s possible that both Tagovailoa and Herbert will become great quarterbacks. So far, they’ve shown that they have the ability to do just that.