INDIANAPOLIS – He was humble and modest and charming, and when Tua Tagovailoa finished his – minute media session at the NFL combine Tuesday, he walked off the dais and behind a curtained hallway with only the smallest hitch in his step.
The former Alabama Quarterback’s health promises to be the biggest storyline for the next two months leading up to the (April) (NFL draft.)
Tua – as everyone knows him – fractured and dislocated his right hip in a November game against Mississippi State and has yet to resume football activities. He said he expects to be cl eared “to do everything” when he meets with his doctors March 9. He has a personal pro day scheduled for April 9 and he’ll likely be asked back for a medical recheck in mid-April.
General manager Bob Quinn declined to share his evaluation of Tagovailoa as a prospect Tuesday, but whether he truly will consider him for the No. 3 pick is irrelevant.
The Lions hold the most valuable draft chip they’ve had in a decade, and they need Tagovailoa healthy to get full return on its worth.
Asked about his most NFL-ready attribute, he said earnestly: “You guys are making me talk about myself. It’s making me feel uncomfortable up here. I’m not too sure, honestly. ”
If not for questions about his health, Tagovailoa would be in play for the No. 1 pick. He has the right combination of arm strength, anticipation and seasoning, and he starred in college football’s most respected program for arguably the game’s best coach.
As it stands, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow likely will be the No. 1 pick, but Tagovailoa wanted nothing to do with debating why he should go ahead of Burrow.
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’m not one to talk about myself too much, but if you want me to talk about the other guy … He’s a fierce competitor. He’s really good. As you can see, he’s broken a lot of records and he’s done a great job this past season. ”
But do not mistake Tagovailoa’s modesty for a lack of confidence.
“And I’m confident (in that, too),” Tagovailoa said.
Quinn and the Lions’ doctors will form their own opinions on that.
The team’s physicians must first decide how big a risk Tagovailoa’s hip and ankles present. Quinn, with input from his scouts and coach Matt Patricia, then will decide whether his talent is worthy of the No. 3 pick, given the team’s other needs and the presence of incumbent Matthew Stafford.
Tagovailoa said he’s willing to sit behind a veteran like Stafford if that’s what his future team wants , though if all checks out with his health, it might not come to that.
) “For me, whatever team decides to pick me, I’d be grateful, whether it’s first or (nd or) th, “he said.” I’d be grateful just to get picked. “
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com . Follow him on Twitter @ davebirkett. Read more on the (Detroit Lions) and sign up for our Lions newsletter .