Not long ago, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Tua Tagovailoa would be leaving Alabama early to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft as professional teams appeared to be fully on board with the “Tank for Tua” strategy to land the Crimson Tide signal-caller.

Following Tagovailoa’s devastating hip injury suffered against Mississippi State on Nov. 16, a wrench was thrown into that plan for some, but it may not be as doom and gloom as things appeared in the immediate aftermath of Tua’s injury.

According to long-time ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., Tagovailoa’s draft fall is expected to work out for well for a franchise that previously had no shot at landing the Alabama signal-caller. The way Kiper explained it, there’s no chance Tagovailoa falls to the second round of the NFL’s upcoming selection process.

“What it means really, is teams that didn’t think they could acquire Tua now have that opportunity,” Kiper said Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN show SportsCenter. “Miami’s not picking it one, the Bengals, Joe Burrow, right? Well, Miami is at four, Tua could be there at that point.  You think about the LA chargers at 10, Tampa Bay in the middle of round one could be looking at a quarterback. Does he get down that far?

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“So the talk about the second round, I don’t see that. I think if he drops out a little bit, teams that didn’t think they could ever get Tua may now have that opportunity. It really boils down to medical. How does the medical turnout between now and late April, that will obviously determine where Tua goes, whether it’s in that four range or the middle that first round.”

Kiper is assuming here that Tagovailoa announces he will declare early for the 2020 NFL Draft, a decision which has yet to be made, but it’s hard to imagine Tua passing up that opportunity if NFL clubs are expressing similar feelings on his stock when it comes to the upcoming draft.