Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room No.247 QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama): Advanced Leverage Reading

Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines a play from NFL Draft prospect Tua Tagovailoa’s portfolio that reveals the difference between a top NFL prospect and a top NFL quarterback. 

Tua Tagovailoa is my top quarterback prospect eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft. He has the footwork of a well-prepared, versatile, and confident passer who can execute a broad array of offensive concepts at a high level.

I’m most impressed with Tagovailoa’s pocket management. He has an excellent gauge for when to take evasive maneuvers against interior and edge pressure, and he can be economical with his movements so he can reset and fire the ball in rhythm to his receiver.

In these respects, he’s an advanced prospect. To become an advanced NFL passer—specifically, an elite pro quarterback—there’s a skill that might be lacking in Tagovailoa’s portfolio of work: Identifying and exploiting certain favorable leverage points in coverage.

He may display it as I continue deeper into his film but so far, I haven’t seen Tagovailoa capitalize on leverage points that he clearly sees but lacks the recognition and/or confidence to rip the ball with anticipation.

This play in the 2018 SEC Championship against Georgia could have been a huge completion that flipped the field, if not resulted in a score. It’s the type of play I’ve seen top NFL passers make.

This is not a career-killer if Tagovailoa never exhibits this level of identification and exploitation of leverage. Alex Smith had some strong years without it in his toolbox. Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton are often “see-it, throw-it” quarterbacks.

However, if Tagovailoa develops this skill, he has a lot of the tools to become an elite NFL quarterback.

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