MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The Tagovailoa family flashes smiles when Miami is mentioned. They are newcomers to the city, but it's easy for them to envision it being a future home where Tua Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins' star quarterback.
"We still have a while to go before that happens. Anybody can pick me. If I do get picked by the Dolphins, I would hope that big things would be in store for us," Tagovailoa said. "I've heard [the Dolphins connection]. I would be honored."
Tua Tagovailoa is a star in Miami already. pic.twitter.com/esxrtVo0R7— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) January 31, 2020
The Dolphins should be seen as the favorites to land Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL draft, as ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay projected in their most recent mock drafts. Miami has three first-round selections (No. 5, No. 18 and No. 26), and it seems like the first could be used if the Dolphins wants to draft Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins and Tagovailoa seem like a perfect fit. Miami needs a franchise-changing quarterback and a leader to guide it from rebuilding team to contender. Tagovailoa could use a team that is willing to be patient with him as he rehabs his hip injury. Plus, a combination of a stable organization led by owner Stephen Ross and an energetic coaching staff led by Brian Flores would put the 21-year-old in the best position to succeed.
Add on that South Florida always sells and the market needs a new star.
"Miami is beautiful. I love it already. The weather is great. It's just like Hawaii," said Galu Tagovailoa, Tua's father, comparing their home to a potential landing spot for his son. "It would be nice if we ended up here."
The Dolphins haven't made their minds up yet by any means. They are definitely interested in Tagovailoa, but they still have to do their due diligence on other quarterback prospects including Oregon's Justin Herbert and Utah State's Jordan Love.
"I've been down there to see [Tagovailoa]. He's a great player. I just worry about his health," Ross said last week. "The coaches [and general manager Chris Grier] make the decision on the draft choices. We have to look at what his health is and everything else and see what the alternatives are."
The Tagovailoa family and Tagovailoa's agent, Leigh Steinberg, seem confident that the quarterback's medical evaluation will be clear. Tagovailoa walked around doing Super Bowl LIV media appearances without a noticeable limp or outward discomfort. But playing football is a much bigger step, and there is a plan in place for Tagovailoa to have a pro day prior to the draft.
Dolphins fans seem to be sold on Tagovailoa already; the "Tank for Tua" campaign has been in full steam for a year now. Even though the Dolphins didn't really tank -- they won five of their final nine games -- they could still end up with the ultimate prize.
"I'm flattered by all of it. I'm honored. It's awesome to hear that people would want you that much," Tagovailoa said. "I haven't even done anything in the NFL, yet."
Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is planning to return for the 2020 season, and he's a perfect bridge quarterback because he can play until Tagovailoa is ready and he has shown a willingness to mentor young quarterbacks.
"[Fitzpatrick] is a good fit for our team coming back. Certainly we're going to be drafting a quarterback," Ross said. "Ryan Fitzpatrick's 37 this year. He'll be 38 next year. You know he's not the future of the franchise. But he's a great person, he's a great mentor and he's the kind of guy you want there to introduce the next quarterback."