Unless you are Nostradamus himself, it’s very difficult to predict who will be the biggest first-round draft pick bust after just one season. There are many factors that go into deciding who is and isn’t an NFL failure.
Some first-round draft picks never make the field for their teams due to injury, while others struggle to get to grips with pro-game intricacies and never get off the practice squad.
For me, the biggest bust has to be one of the first top ten players picked, and in a position that really affects the team’s overall success.
So as I put on my magical predictions cap and look at the 2020 NFL first-round draft class, one name stands out to me as having the potential to be the biggest bust.
The number 5 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft - Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua entered the draft as one of the most polarizing players to many NFL insiders. He had a stellar college career, leading Alabama to the 2018 National Championship and the 2019 title game.
However, Tua was seriously injured in late 2019 against Mississippi State. He suffered a dislocated and fractured hip, a broken nose, and a concussion. Due to his injuries, he was unable to participate in pre-draft workouts.
Even with injury concerns and rumors surrounding him, Tua was selected number 5 by the Miami Dolphins as their future franchise QB.
2020 Season statistics
Tua played in ten NFL games in his rookie season, starting nine of them. He replaced veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the lineup in week 6 against the New York Jets.
6.3 yard average per pass
11 Touchdowns - 5 Interceptions
QBR - 52.5
Average 3 yards per carry
3 Touchdowns - 1 Fumble
Tagovailoa ranked 26th in QBR, 34th in passing yards, and 29th in completion percentage. The first season numbers are very underwhelming from Tua, especially when compared with his fellow first-round QB draft picks.
Rookie QB comparison
The 2020 NFL Draft featured four quarterbacks being selected in the first round. The Cincinnati Bengals picked Joe Burrow at #1, the Dolphins picked Tua at #5, the LA Chargers picked Justin Herbert at #6, and the Green Packers chose Jordan Love at #26.
Now we can discount Love immediately as he didn’t take a snap for the NFC North champion Packers in 2020.
Number one pick Burrow started 10 games before he tore his ACL against Washington. He had an impressive passing rating of 89.8, 2,680 passing yards and 13 touchdowns against 5 interceptions. Burrow also had 3 rushing touchdowns.
Justin Herbert, the number 6 pick, started 15 games for the Chargers and had a passing rating of 98.3. He threw 31 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and was named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
If you compare Tua with the other first-round draft picks, he is at the bottom of the pack.
Miami Dolphins Franchise
Another reason I believe that Tua will be the biggest bust from the 2020 draft is the team that picked him. The Miami Dolphins have not made the Superbowl since Dan Marino’s rookie season in 1984.
Over the past decade, the Dolphins have only had two winning seasons and have failed to win a single playoff game. The franchise has proven to be incompetent in building a successful team.
While they have pushed all their chips in on Tua by letting Ryan Fitzpatrick go this season, they did sign veteran backup QB Jacoby Brissett as an insurance policy.
The lack of star players on offense to help Tua will only add to the pressure for him to perform. The fragile offensive line also raises the possibility of Tagovailoa getting injured.
What his teammates are saying about Tua
Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero spoke to some Dolphins players who spoke anonymously about Tua and the organization’s decision to name him the starter for 2021. The players expressed doubt about Tagovailoa’s overall talent and his ability to develop into what the team needs him to be: a top-tier quarterback.
“... the players also say they don’t see a special trait in Tagovailoa’s skill set beyond his accuracy.One defensive player said he isn’t impressed with Tagovailoa’s ball velocity or arm strength or ability to make off-schedule plays with his legs. So he ultimately questions whether Tagovailoa will ever be able to match the feats of other quarterbacks in the AFC such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson.
“Those are the boys we got to beat, right?” this player said. “It looks right now like that’s going to be a big challenge.”
So it seems that I’m not the only one who has doubts about Tua’s future potential. Now he may go on to have a great NFL career and win the Superbowl. However, at this time he is my pick as the biggest bust of the 2020 NFL Draft.