Tua Tagovailoa is this year's premier boom-or-bust prospect. The talent and skills he showcased over the last few years at Alabama indicate he could have a long and potentially very successful professional career, but the hip injury he suffered in his final collegiate season is of great concern for any potential suitor. That concern is only compounded by teams' lack of accessibility in light of the measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Trent Dilfer, however, is not worried at all. What does he know that others don't? Well, in a Washington Post story published this morning, Dilfer revealed he secretly trained with Tagovailoa on a high school campus in the month leading up to the NFL Combine. He told the Post that Tagovailoa is not only healthy, he's a Hall of Fame-level talent:
"“If he would have never gotten hurt there would have been no discussion about who the best player in the draft is,” Dilfer says. “He throws the football better than anyone throws the football. He throws better than Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino. Whoever gets him wins the draft because you are getting a Hall of Fame player.”"
Dilfer has spent the last year at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, and only agreed to train Tagovailoa if it was all kept under wraps. The Alabama product spent his days studying and throwing in the school's field house, leaving only to work out and go home. Dilfer managed to keep Tagovailoa hidden from the school's populace (perhaps the most impressive part of this whole story) and used Rocky IV as the pair's inspiration.
We've come a long way from Dilfer's Dimes, haven't we?
In an alternate universe where Tagovailoa didn't get hurt, this may not be that ludicrous of a claim. Tagovailoa put up huge numbers as the leader of a powerhouse program. He very well could have upended LSU's season of destiny if he didn't go down. But he did, and one prerequisite of becoming a Hall of Famer is staying on the field. His hip injury brings his ability to do that into question.
The talent is clearly there. More goes into a Hall of Fame career than talent, but we didn't need Dilfer to tell us Tagovailoa could be very, very good for a long time. The question, as it always has been, is his hip. Given the state of affairs, whichever team drafts Tagovailoa might be waiting a while yet before seeing if he truly has come as far as Dilfer says.