Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa are two successful former quarterbacks from Alabama who will start together in the NFL in 2021. Hurts will go from second-round pick to full-time for the Eagles. Tagovailoa, who sat in early as the first round in 2020, is unmistakably the Dolphins’ young No.1 pistol.
When Hurts and Tagovailoa played for Nick Saban and helped Crimson Tide achieve more supremacy in college football, they helped spark an incredible streak of highly drafted offensive players. Since 2018, Alabama has produced three wide first-round receivers to Calvin Ridley, Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy. In running back Josh Jacobs was in the first round and Damien Harris in the third round. Hurts and Tagovailoa were selected high in 2020.
Now the program’s offensive explosion takes the NFL to a whole new level with its incredible National Championship winning quartet: DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Mac Jones and Najee Harris. Both Smith and Waddle are now expected to enter the top 10 on April 29, edging out Ruggs and Jeudy in the top 20 at Wideout. Jones will follow Tagovailoa at the start and middle of the first round. Harris, the questionable top running back in the 2021 class, has a chance to join Jacobs as a late first round.
Few players know all these hopes as well as their former teammates, Hurts and Tagovailoa. They competed and developed with Jones. They viewed Smith and Waddle as promising young targets. They watched Harris become the last star of the Alabama backfields. Sporting News spoke to the two former Bama QBs to find out more about the incredible quartet.
Hurts, before leaving Alabama and boosting his draft supply in Oklahoma, is certain that fighting for playing time at Tuscaloosa while absorbing high-level concepts has allowed him, Tagovailoa and Jones to feed and d ” move towards the best possible well. rounded quarters.
“When I got in there, I had four five-star quarterbacks ahead of me. I put myself in that position to compete with the intention of taking over, and it took off from there,” said Hurts. “I know Tua learned a lot from me, and I know I learned a lot from him.
“The drive, the work ethic of Mac Jones, I’ve always admired that about him. He always believed in himself, so we all had a good connection with that. It’s so crazy to watch it in. back now that we all have a chance to be in this league at this level of play. “
Tagovailoa, who followed Hurts and was succeeded by Jones, praised his replacement and highlighted his most underrated attribute.
“Mac is very Tom Brady-esque. He admires Tom Brady. He sometimes tries to dress like Tom Brady. He’s Mac’s tallest model,” Tagovailoa said. “He’s a very smart kid, on and off the pitch. He takes care of the things he needs as a hard worker. He also has a sneaky sort of athleticism that helps him.
With the Dolphins picking up third place overall and the wide receiver is a key offensive need, there’s a chance Tagovailoa could reunite with Smith or Waddle. Hurts also has that chance with the Eagles on the clock in 7th place.
Regardless of the opening game of the draft, Tagovailoa knows it will be difficult for NFL teams to choose between Smith and Waddle.
“They are both very explosive. They can both get the upper hand on defenses,” Tagovailoa said. “They’re also very athletic in space, so you give them the ball out in the field, they’ll do something for you.”
Smith and Waddle also don’t stop contributing when they’re off routes and catching passes.
“In the running game, they’re not afraid to get dirty with blocks,” Tagovailoa said. “That’s what makes them all-round players for any NFL team that gets one.”
Hurts first looked at Waddle’s handling of the ball, speed and quickness when checking out the future wide receiver playing AAU basketball in Houston.
“I saw his athleticism play basketball and always knew he was something special,” said Hurts. “He fit in perfectly when he came to Alabama. He’s a pure playmaker who plays passionate football and he loves football.”
Hurts also remembers his hard-hitting first impression of Smith, which came when he greeted him on a successful college recruiting visit.
“Everyone wants to go out and party and be on the premises, but the first thing we did was go to the indoor facilities in Alabama and create routes and work hard,” said Hurts. “That describes him in a nutshell – the maturity he has, the drive to win, the competitive nature. He has it all. That’s why he had one of the best receiving seasons in college football history. . “
As for Harris, Hurts was sold early when he saw him back his strong legs with good hands for the passing game.
“Najee came in as a rookie jumping over people, catching the ball with one hand,” said Hurts. “He’s a big guy, but he can do everything well, catch the ball, run routes. He’s both devious and powerful.
When Tagovailoa first saw Harris, he was shocked at how much someone with a 6-2, 230-pound frame could move.
“From high school when we were recruited I couldn’t believe this guy was in high school. He looked like he had played a few years in college already,” Tagovailoa said. “He really stood out in every camp I saw him go. He was the biggest ball carrier, he was the strongest carrier. He’s very quick on his feet.”
Tagovailoa was equally impressed that Harris remains founded to be such a talented running back who knew how good he was.
“I was a roommate with him in my first year and in my second year,” Tagovailoa said. “He’s a great guy on and off the pitch, a lot of fun to be around. Whoever has this guy, he’s lucky.”
Alabama was known to be a defensive factory for the NFL. But as Saban has adjusted his squad to perform better and more efficiently, they also produce coveted pro-style attacking players. Hurts and Tagovailoa played a big part in reversing the perception and the Crimson Tide went full speed passing, running and receiving game changes.
The specific NFL teams that end up with Jones, Smith, Waddle and Harris won’t just be lucky. They will have chances of launching big attacks due to their respective choices.