Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins’ draft process on Tua Tagovailoa impacted by COVID-19 fallout

Monday was an eventful day for presumptive (according to all the meaningless mock drafts) Miami Dolphins first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa.

The most important thing first:

Tagovailoa, who this month was cleared by his doctors to begin field work following his December hip surgery, gave Twitter a first glance of some of that work Monday night.

The quick video shows the former Alabama quarterback dropping back, moving in the pocket, and firing a pass to an unseen spot or receiver using good footwork and torque from his lower body.

So, good job.

That will undoubtedly answer every question from NFL teams concerned about Tagovailoa’s recovery even if it does not address the lingering questions about his durability.

Seriously, it’s good to see Tagovailoa moving in the pocket when he was still limping a month ago. But make no mistake, his medical situation remains uncertain and his draft process has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 500 people in the United States as of Tuesday morning.

Because of this situation, medical rechecks after the NFL Combine are uncertain to be done. At the Combine last month, Tagovailoa spoke of spending the entire day with doctors checking him head to toe from 10 a.m. until after 7 p.m.

“I was the last person to come out — just in time for the informal and formal interviews,” Tagovailoa said.

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If the pandemic lingers, the rechecks of injured players — meant to measure improvement or lack of it — might not happen. And that will greatly disappoint teams wanting to get as much medical information on Tagovailoa as possible.

It gets worse.

Before the NFL shut down all team facilities from free agent and potential draftee visits, the Dolphins tried to bring Tagovailoa to South Florida for a so-called 30 visit. The player was unable to make the visit before all league facilities were shut to outsiders.

And now this:

All NFL-related physicals will be discontinued until the health scare has passed, according to a report by the NFL Network.

Dr. Anthony Casolaro, president of the NFL Physicians Society and co-head physician for the Washington Redskins, recently informed the NFL and NFL Players Association that free agents and draft prospects will not be examined until the health crisis has passed.

“We believe It is not in the interest of the players nor team medical staff to continue to perform these physicals,” Casolaro wrote in a letter. “At a time of the most serious pandemic in our lifetime, we believe medical resources should focus on those who are ill or in need of care.

“We look forward to examining players when it is appropriate to do so.”

What this means tangibly is the Dolphins desperately need the virus and its associated emergency measures to subside before the April 23 NFL Draft in order to get a full, accurate, and current medical snapshot of Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins need this work to make the most informed decision on the player whom they are considering taking with their first selection (No. 5 overall in the first round). The team is also seriously considering Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who is not recovering from any significant injury or surgery.

And lacking this medical material, the Dolphins’ decision on which player they feel most comfortable selecting could be affected.

One more thing: There was a report recently about the Redskins being very interested in drafting Tagovailoa after they interviewed him and several other quarterbacks at the Combine.

That narrative has taken multiple hits in recent weeks, and the latest came Monday.

The Redskins reportedly traded for quarterback Kyle Allen of the Carolina Panthers, according to the NFL Network. And that reunites Allen with new Washington coach Ron Rivera.

That also gives the Redskins a starting-quarterback candidate in Dwayne Haskins and a backup candidate in Allen. It seems unlikely at this moment the Redskins, who have needs at other positions, would use the No. 2 overall selection on Tagovailoa, thus adding a third quarterback to the mix.

The Redskins are said to covet Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young.

So more and more, it seems the bidding for Tagovailoa and Herbert will begin with the No. 3 overall selection, which is held by the Detroit Lions.

The Dolphins will likely be interested in the No. 3 pick if they cannot swing a deal with Cincinnati to trade up to the No. 1 overall selection to pick Joe Burrow.

At No. 3, the Dolphins could choose between Tagovailoa and Herbert. The Los Angeles Chargers might also vie for that No. 3 pick.

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