It loomed as a burning question draped over the 2020 NFL Draft: Where on terra firma would Tua Tagovailoa wind up?
Five picks into Thursday's first-round selection process, we had our answer. The Miami Dolphins made the celebrated Alabama quarterback their newly anointed franchise signal-caller amid chatter and whispers they might go elsewhere with the pick.
Thirteen picks later, the Dolphins added some protection for their new signal-caller, selecting USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson, the fifth offensive lineman off the board. Miami traded back from No. 26 to No. 30 later in the proceedings to select Auburn defensive back Noah Igbinoghene. The Dolphins also netted the 136th overall selection from Green Bay, while the Packers selected Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.
Concerns surrounding Tagovailoa center squarely around the devastating hip injury he suffered in November during a showdown with Mississippi State. Saddled with a dislocation and fractured posterior wall, the 6-foot, 217-pound Tagovailoa underwent surgery two days later.
Tagovailoa's representatives and doctors state he is healthy, but teams still had to decide for themselves. The Dolphins have made their evaluation, grabbing the 22-year-old, dangerously accurate passer as their presumed centerpiece for autumns to come.
"He doesn't have an overpowering arm, but he makes all the throws," one personnel man told Bob McGinn of The Athletic. "He's got a quick release. He's got touch, velocity. He's got the feet to avoid. He's got really good eyes. Cool under pressure. Slides through the pocket. Really good play-action guy. He doesn't throw interceptions."
Said another: "He's a great college player but, wow, he is fragile. He's a super kid and I don't wish ill will, but there's three, four or five red flags staring us all in the face saying, 'You know what? This guy's not going to be all that he's cracked up to be.'"
Allow me to shift for a beat to suggest Dolphins fans -- and fans everywhere -- read the fascinating feature on Tagovailoa by NFL Network's Steve Wyche. It's a thorough examination of the human behind the on-field glory, but make no mistake: The Dolphins have also acquired a potentially explosive talent.
"First off, preparing to face him, you know how much he can do as a thrower and in the RPO (run-pass option) game, so you have to study a ton of film on him against a lot of different defenses," Michigan State coach Mel Tucker told Wyche. "You see him against different fronts, how he's reading coverages. How he's diagnosing blitz packages. He was productive on every (video clip)."
The Dolphins hope the video clips and stunning game tape are just beginning for one of the more enticing college prospects of the past decade.