The Detroit Lions Need Everyone to Believe They're Interested in Tua Tagovailoa

A plan so crazy it could work.
A plan so crazy it could work. / Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa's health is an uncertainty following hip surgery and a long rehab. His potential, when healthy, is not in doubt. This makes him one of the most compelling, if not the most compelling figure in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Franchise quarterbacks don't grow on trees and there are several teams in desperate need of one. Joe Burrow is ripe for the picking at No. 1 and the Cincinnati Bengals will almost certainly take a big ol' bite of that apple. Washington at No. 2 just took the plunge with Dwayne Haskins last year and aren't as disillusioned as the Arizona Cardinals were last year before the Josh Rosen-for-Kyler Murray swap. So that will leave the Detroit Lions at No. 3 with an interesting decision. Or so they'd like you to think.

With Matthew Stafford under contract for the next two years, the conventional wisdom would be to either take the best available player or trade down with a team hungry for Tagovailoa. But the best-case scenario for Matt Patricia's team, which is under a win-now mandate from ownership, is to sell the idea that they'll pick the Alabama product and have him learn at the feet of Stafford.

Mike Tannenabaum and Mel Kiper have floated this possibility. And whether that idea was planted by the Lions or not, it's in their interest to have it grow from a quiet whisper to a loud rumor.

Why? To entice a team like the Dolphins at five or Chargers at six to swap with the Redskins to ensure Tua isn't snatched up and sent to the Motor City. Or even Jacksonville, which is in quarterback purgatory with Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew. Or a team from out of the clouds who believes the risk is worth the reward. This would allow Chase Young, perhaps the gem of this draft, to become available for Bob Quinn and company at No. 3. Adding a premier pass-rusher will only help a defense that put up the worst season in franchise history outside of the 0-16 season.

So that's the gameplan. Obviously, there are many "ifs" involved. First, Tagovailoa's health. Second, making this seem real, when it's probably not all that realistic. Finally, the Redskins need to be so bowled over by an offer to let go of a top-two pick in the first year of the Ron Rivera era.

To that last point, the Chargers probably don't have the ammunition to move up. But Miami is possession of the No. 5, No. 18, and No. 27 picks. That's quite a bundle to turn down.

Tank For Tua is so yesterday. The operation for the Lions is now Talk For Tua, even if it's all a veneer.