2020 NFL Draft Odds: Tua Tagovailoa Declares, Joe Burrow Likely #1 Pick
On Monday, University of Alabama college football quarterback Tua Tagovailoa announced that he’d be bidding farewell to Tuscaloosa and declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft. Online sports betting sites have posted odds on who will be selected with the No. 1 overall pick on April 23 in Las Vegas. Two players, Joe Burrow and Chase Young, sit ahead of Tagovailoa.
Six months ago, Tua Tagovailoa was the consensus top prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, the decision to forgo his senior season was complicated by a serious hip injury against Mississippi State on Nov. 16, not long after the standout passer had minor surgery to repair a high-ankle sprain.
Tagovailoa, who finished his career with a Total QBR of 93.4 and set school records with 87 touchdowns and ten 300-yard games, was so impressive that there was speculation that NFL teams were tanking to draft him in 2020.
Just how impressive was Tagovailoa’s time in Alabama? Per ESPN Stats & Info, Tua’s career QBR is the best in the history of the metric. His records are even more astonishing considering he only started one full season at Alabama. Tagovailoa played sparingly his freshman season before replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts and bringing the Crimson Tide back from a 20-7 deficit in the 2018 National Championship against Georgia. Tagovailoa parlayed that performance into Alabama’s starting quarterback job and another national championship appearance during the 2018-19 season.
His spot on the 2020 NFL draft board has been made even more complicated by the surprise Heisman-winning season of LSU’s Joe Burrow. Burrow was 200-1 to win the Heisman before starting the season while Tagovailoa was the co-favorite with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
LSU has since replaced Alabama in the 2020 National Championship game, and Burrow has replaced Tagovailoa as the favorite to go be selected with the No. 1 overall pick, according to 2020 NFL Draft odds at FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook.
2020 NFL Draft Odds to be the No. 1 Pick
Will the Cincinnati Bengals pick Burrow No. 1 in the 2020 NFL Draft?
It’s the Bengals, not the Dolphins, who own the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after an abysmal 2-14 season. At odds of -1150, it’s assumed Cincinnati’s front office will move on from 32-year-old Andy Dalton, who the Bengals selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, and bring the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner to Ohio.
Burrow’s roots are in Ohio, playing football at Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio before committing to Ohio State as a four-star recruit and the nation’s no. 8 dual-threat quarterback. Burrow redshirted his freshman season, and spent two years as J.T. Barrett backup.
The competition for Ohio State’s quarterback job didn’t ease up after Barrett left. The arrival of Dwayne Haskins would ultimately lead to Burrow’s departure to Baton Rouge in 2018.
With immediate eligibility as a graduate transfer, Burrow led the Tigers to a 10-win season, but the success didn’t translate into NFL draft appeal heading into his senior season. Burrow only threw for 2,894 yards and 16 touchdowns his junior year, and he was left off of Todd McShay’s and Mel Kiper’s first-round 2020 NFL draft rankings in August. In fact, Tagovailoa was still projected at the top of McShay’s rankings as late as October while Burrow was still missing.
As I asked in our SEC Championship preview, how does one go from 200-1 odds to a lock to win the Heisman? How does a redshirt senior go from MIA in NFL mock drafts to the heavy favorite to be selected with No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft? 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns and only six interceptions through 14 games helps. 493 yards and seven of those touchdowns came against Oklahoma in the semifinals of the 2020 College Football Playoff., setting the DFS slate on fire.
Those questioning whether Burrow is worthy of the first pick April will point towards the recent arrival of LSU’s offensive analyst, Joe Brady. Brady helped install the new-look spread offense in Baton Rouge that allowed Burrow to put up such monstrous numbers (and one of the reasons why we liked Burrow +3300 to win the Heisman Trophy in Week 2).
The new system certainly helped Burrow, but it’s unlikely to scare Cincinnati from drafting the LSU product. Not only is the NFL becoming more and more like college football, as we’ve seen with the pairing of Kliff Kingsbury and Murray in Arizona, but Burrow just possibly had most efficient season for a college football quarterback ever.
As FiveThirtyEight’s Josh Planos explains in the link above, Burrow has excelled against all defenses, all while facing the fifth-toughest schedule of 2019. Burrow’s completion marks — 72% against man and 77.6% against zone — topped those of Jake Fromm, Kyler Murray, Justin Fields, and Tagovailoa.
Other key takeaways from Planos:
- Under pressure, Burrow completes 73.9 percent of his passes, a clip 9.5 percentage points better than any other player in the country and the top mark produced by any QB since at least 2011.
- His 211.2 passer efficiency rating is the highest among qualified passers over that stretch.
- Burrow’s adjusted completion percentage of 82.5, which weights completions by air yards and excludes drops and throwaways, is the highest mark in the nine-season sample from the ESPN Stats & Information Group.
The Bengals already hired a new offensive coordinator, Raiders quarterbacks coach, Brian Callahan, ending speculation that Cincinnati might try to bring in both Burrow and Brady from LSU.
Second-year head coach and offensive play-caller Zac Taylor surely wants his own young quarterback to build around. With questions surrounding Tagovailoa’s durability, the betting markets are likely right that it’ll be Burrow. If so, it won’t be the first time Cincinnati chooses a Heisman Trophy winner with the No. 1 overall pick.
The last time the Bengals picked first overall was in 2003, when they took Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer made the pro bowl twice during his seven seasons in Cincinnati, but Bengals fans hope the pain it takes to get the No. 1 pick will be worth more than a single playoff win.
Where does that leave Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL draft?
The Washington Redskins are slated to pick No. 2, but they won’t be selecting another quarterback after taking Dwayne Haskins in 2019. They’ll likely add Ohio State’s Chase Young to a defense in need of a lot of help.
The Detroit Lions, New York Giants and Miami Dolphins follow the Redskins to round out the first five NFL 2020 draft picks.
Unless someone makes a major trade, the Dolphins will likely have an opportunity at the very quarterback we thought they were tanking for after all. However, depending on how things play out over the next couple of months for Tagovailoa, don’t be surprised if someone like the Los Angeles Chargers turn the draft into a bidding war to move up and grab him.
Tagovailoa’s Monday announcement affects NFL betting markets, and it also will play a factor as bettors make their college football picks for 2020-21 National Championship and Heisman Trophy. It will certainly be interesting as legal US sportsbooks post more NFL 2020 Draft props such as Will Tua Tagovailoa go Over/Under X pick? closer to April 23.
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images