Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa needs to win to justify draft spot

Miami Dolphins . (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Miami Dolphins . (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Omar Kelly says Tua Tagovailoa needs to be a top-10 quarterback to justify being drafted fifth overall, but in the end, it comes down to can he win.

When the Miami Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa fifth overall in 2020, there was an expectation that he would become the Dolphins’ best quarterback since Dan Marino. He has followed up a long list of quarterbacks that have failed to replace the Hall of Famer, but he still has time to blaze his own path.

Taking a quarterback in the top-10 of a draft means that the team expects him to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. Not only was Taogvailoa thrown into the fire early in his first season, but he’s also had the worst offensive line in the league during that time period.

The current iteration of the Miami Dolphins, at least on paper and pre-training camp, is the best version of the team that Tagovailoa has ever featured on. Not only have general manager Chris Grier and head coach Mike McDaniel built a roster that features the talent to support Taogvailoa – acquiring Tyreek Hill and signing Terron Armstead are top-10 talents at their positions – but the former Alabama quarterback is coming into a season fully healthy, away from the hip injury that abruptly ended his Alabama career.

In the end, what does Taogovailoa need to do to show he was worth a top-five pick in the draft? Easy, he needs to help his team win.

Winning isn’t new to Tagovailoa either. In games he’s played, he has a 13-and-8 record, missing the playoffs by one game each of the last two years. He’s been largely carried by his defense, but he’s doing just enough to help his team win.

Yes, he had the blunders against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons that cost the team the game, but he has yet to lose to the New England Patriots – and in Miami that matters.

The next step for Tagovailoa would be becoming a player that can take over games and leave no doubt in a 2-minute drill – he’s done it before, just check his rookie year against Arizona. He doesn’t need to be a top-10 quarterback to achieve that.

The hiring of McDaniel – and even the reports of the massive Sean Payton contract offer – shows that the team feels that they can win with Tagovailoa. He has yet to have stability with offensive coaching, having had three offensive play-callers in three years.

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McDaniel has worked with a quarterback who wasn’t a top-10 guy but won games. With Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm, the San Francisco 49ers made it to a Super Bowl and two NFC conference championship games. There is an understanding that it’s a team sport and this current Dolphins roster is the best-built roster the Dolphins have had in my lifetime (22 years).

Would Taogvialoa becoming a top-10 quarterback help Miami win more? Probably. Does he need to become a top-10 quarterback for the Dolphins to win? No.

Tagoaviloa should see a jump now that he is, reportedly, past his hip injury. But Grier and McDaniel have given him the best roster to win and if he can’t take advantage of it, then it is set for the next quarterback to do just that.