Steinberg: Tua will be ready for NFL draft
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should be able to work out for clubs before this April’s NFL draft and will be picked at the top of the board despite recovering from injury, his agent, Leigh Steinberg, said last week.
“We certainly expect he’ll be able to do a pro passing day and individual team visits — enough for draft evaluation,” Steinberg said. “It may not be Alabama’s Pro Scouting Day, right? It may be a later date.”
Steinberg Sports & Entertainment last week signed Tagovailoa, who had been projected as the potential No.1 pick prior to suffering a hip injury that required surgery. NFL agents Chris Cabott and Steinberg will represent him.
Tagovailoa was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery after suffering the injury in a Nov. 16 game against Mississippi State. Although the news looked grim initially — he was screaming in pain as he was carted off the field — doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
“He was already walking around without crutches today … which puts him way ahead of schedule,” Steinberg said last week. “So here’s the thing. This is not croquet that they play. It’s not chess. It’s football.”
Steinberg said they would follow doctors’ orders, but they expect Tagovailoa to attend the NFL combine, which starts Feb. 23. Steinberg said he doesn’t expect Tagovailoa to work out there, but he can go through interviews and participate in chalkboard sessions, and clubs already have his game film.
“Everyone will look at the medical reports but that’s the same thing that happens with every player and there is virtually no football player that doesn’t have some form of injury and that all comes out at the combine,” Steinberg said.
Asked if Tagovailoa was a top-10 pick, Steinberg said, “Absolutely.” He added, “Are we going to do this again, like we did with Mahomes?” referring to Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, who was picked No. 10 overall in the 2017 draft. In January 2017, Steinberg was telling people he was a first-round pick, but few people, including draft analysts, believed him.
But Tagovailoa is a different story. “[He] comes with obvious medical questions but the tape shows a highly accurate passer with the physical tools and intangibles to project as a long-term NFL starter, warranting first-round consideration,” said Rob Rang, veteran NFL analyst who now heads up draft coverage for Field Level Media.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay had Tagovailoa ranked No. 4 on his mock draft last week.
Steinberg Sports & Entertainment also signed Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. Cabott and Steinberg are also representing him. McShay had Jeudy ranked No. 3 on his mock draft.
“He should be a top-10 pick, also,” Steinberg said of Jeudy. “He might well be the first player picked.”
Steinberg has been representing players since the 1975 NFL draft and has represented eight overall No. 1 picks, but was out of the business for several years in the early part of the 2010s while he battled legal and financial troubles and alcoholism. Since relaunching in 2015, he’s represented two first rounders — Mahomes and Paxton Lynch in 2016.
Steinberg will celebrate 10 years of sobriety in March. “My comeback was maintaining my sobriety and being a good father,” Steinberg said. “But it’s been fun and maybe it provides inspiration to anyone out there having tough times to realize a second act can be just as fun as the first.”
■ BEGREAT SIGNS NFL DRAFT CLASS: BeGreat Sports has signed Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor and Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley for representation in the NFL draft.
Barry Gardner, a former NFL linebacker and current NFL agent, launched BeGreat in 2018 and he is representing the players.
■ CAA SIGNS DUPLANTIER: CAA Sports has signed Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Jon Duplantier in all areas.
A team of agents, led by Ryan Hamill, Ollie Linton, Matt Brownstein, Evan Green and Marissa Dishaw, are representing him. He was formerly represented by SSG Baseball.