Tagovailoa, Herbert, Love: How Dolphins' checklist lines up with 2020 QB class

Could Tua fall to the Dolphins with the fifth pick? (0:52)

Todd McShay breaks down Tua Tagovailoa's draft status, including how far he could rise in the first round based on his health. (0:52)

INDIANAPOLIS -- With Joe Burrow likely headed to the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, there's a strong chance the Miami Dolphins' next quarterback will come from this trio: Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon's Justin Herbert or Utah State's Jordan Love.

How will the Dolphins decide who is worthy of being their guy? Miami general manager Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores have already formulated their thoughts.

"We're looking for guys who are tough, who are smart, who are competitive, who love to play, put the team first," Flores said.

Tagovailoa is the favorite to land in Miami, but with his injury situation somewhat unsettled and other QB-needy teams in position to trade up, the Dolphins have to be prepared.

On top of those characteristics outlined by Flores, we have identified five categories that will likely factor into the Dolphins' decision. We'll grade each prospect from 1 through 5, with 5 being the best, in each category:

Leadership/Fitz-like intangibles

Dolphins' take: This might be the most important factor in Miami's quarterback search. "A lot of the intangibles are what separates a lot of guys," Grier said at the NFL combine. Leadership is one of those intangibles. Flores said veteran Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick possesses a natural leadership ability that lifted his team's play in a rocky 5-11 season, and it's a quality desired from the next QB.

Tagovailoa: He plays with poise, command and confidence that helped him be a leader in a Crimson Tide program full of alphas. He has a lot of Fitz intangibles. "Everyone always talks about his accuracy and they talk about the person as well; the intangibles that we talked about," Grier said. Grade: 5

Herbert: This is probably Herbert's biggest knock. He was admittedly shy and quiet early in college while forcing himself to be uncomfortable and grow into more of a leader. Teams that have interviewed him and done their research can answer where they think his progress is, but for now ... Grade: 2

Love: A significant drop in Utah State's talent around Love from 2018 to 2019 contributed to his struggles. He never complained, but some NFL teams wish he did a little more to elevate those around him. Grade: 3

The 'it' factor

Dolphins' take: Flores says his franchise quarterback has to have the "it factor" and he gave his own definition to how he finds that trait. "That's something everyone talks about. Does he have that factor? Do guys rally around him? I think that's something you see watching the film, but you get to know the player, the people around him, his coaches, his high school coaches or anybody who's had an effect on [him]," Flores said. "You want to get to know him and have those conversations. It's a feel. You may feel like your guy has it. [Someone] may not."

Tagovailoa: Tagovailoa's most impressive trait is he exudes the "it" factor. He arrived on the scene as a freshman quarterback entering the national championship game in the second half and leading Alabama to an impressive comeback victory. He has it. Grade: 5

Herbert: It seems as if his on-field confidence hasn't lined up with his skill set and arm talent, yet. He didn't have a ton of "wow" moments or off-script plays. Grade: 2

Love: There is a lot of "wow" in his game and that's what makes his potential so tantalizing. He can make unique throws from special angles, but it happened more in spurts than consistently. Grade: 3


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Bill Parcells' QB rules

Dolphins' take: Grier is a Parcells disciple, and though he doesn't treat the rules his mentor made famous many years ago as gospel, he most likely considers them. Here's the Parcells' rules for drafting a quarterback and how they stack up with our trio:

  • Post a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio

  • Complete at least 60% of passes thrown

  • Start 30 games

  • Win 23 games

  • Be a three-year starter

  • Be a senior in college

  • Graduate from college

Tagovailoa: Yes, nearly 8-to-1 | Yes, 69.3% | No, 24 | No, 22 | No, two seasons | No | No

Total: 2 out of 7. This is somewhat outdated as many top QBs declare as juniors. Tagovailoa gets knocked for having two years as a starter and leaving college early. Grade: 2

Herbert: Yes, more than 4-to-1 | Yes, 64% | Yes, 42 | Yes, 27 | Yes | Yes | Yes

Total: 7/7. Only Herbert and former Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts got a perfect Parcells' rules score. Herbert returning for his senior season helped him check off more boxes. Grade: 5

Love: Yes, by a hair 60-to-29 | Yes, 61.2% | Yes, 32 | No, 21 | No, 2 1/2 seasons | Yes, redshirt junior on field, but senior in college | Yes

Total 5/7. He didn't win as much as Parcells would like, but otherwise, he has a good overall score. Grade: 4

Physical traits

Dolphins' take: NFL teams look for size, accuracy, arm strength, mobility and injury history in their evaluation of QBs. Grier said Tagovailoa does not have the physical traits of an ideal top quarterback prospect, but noted "the game has changed a little bit."

"You're getting a lot of players that aren't the old model like the Drew Bledsoes at 6-foot-5, 230 [pounds]. You're getting a lot of these guys because -- [Arizona's] Kyler Murray last year is one, [Cleveland's] Baker Mayfield. You're getting a lot of guys that are good football players now," Grier said. "That's what teams are just looking for. Are they good football players? Especially at that position if they have all the intangibles.”

Tagovailoa: A 6-foot stature, extensive injury history and average arm strength hurts Tagovailoa here, but he has the draft's best accuracy and the modern NFL seems more willing to bet on QBs who aren't the prototypical size. Grade: 2

Herbert: At 6-6, 236, Herbert looks the part of a franchise QB. He might have the strongest arm in the draft and an impressive 4.68 40-yard dash shows off his mobility. Inconsistent touch and accuracy might be his knock here. Grade: 4

Love: At 6-4, 224, Love is another guy who looks like a quarterback. Similar to Herbert, Love has a strong arm and mobility (4.74 40-yard dash) but the accuracy issues remain the biggest impediment. Grade: 4


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Overcoming adversity, big moment plays

Dolphins' take: Grier and Flores prefer players who can overcome adversity and show up when the pressure is high. That means a lot for a quarterback who will enter a rebuilding Dolphins team.

Tagovailoa: As mentioned earlier, Tagovailoa's big-moment history is legendary. He overcame two ankle surgeries and hopes to overcome the hip injury. If his past success is an indicator, he will overcome the obstacles. Grade: 5

Herbert: His signature moment is rushing for three touchdowns in a Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin. Although it was with his legs -- not his arm -- Herbert played one of the best games of his career on a big stage. He has lived in Eugene, Oregon, his whole life, so moving could be an adjustment. Grade: 3

Love: His father took his own life when Love was a teenager, and he briefly considered quitting football, but he didn't. His big moments weren't as plentiful as Tagovailoa, but he also easily had the worst supporting cast of the trio. Grade: 4


  1. Tagovailoa: 19/25

  2. Herbert: 16/25

  3. Love: 18/25