Sixteen-year NFL veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick knows full well what the Dolphins' plans were when they drafted Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa fifth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
And he's totally OK with it.
Fitzpatrick on Monday appeared on the "What’s Next?" podcast with former Bills teammate Eric Wood to discuss, among other things, how he may mentor Miami's future franchise quarterback in 2020.
“I’m really excited, I’m really excited that they drafted him," Fitzpatrick told Wood. "I’m excited because I watched him play at Alabama and he seems like he’s a pretty dynamic talent. For me, I’m his biggest cheerleader right now.”
That said: While Fitzpatrick is happy to teach Tagovailoa, he hopes his own play is good enough that he can do so by example.
Part of that, assuredly, will be teaching Tagovailoa how to better protect himself on the field. The rookie has a notable injury history from his time at Alabama, including a college-career-ending dislocated hip and posterior wall fracture. That in turn caused everyone from media members, former coaches and anonymous scouts and executives to comment on whether he was worth a first-round pick.
“Hopefully some of the lessons I’m able to teach him are him watching me play, but if it’s the other way around, I’m going to do my best to help him to succeed in the best way that he can," Fitzpatrick said of Tagovailoa.
“I think part of it is, they have to take a backseat and watch,” he added. “They have to watch how I operate … not to say what I do is perfect … but there are going be a lot of things they can pull from me that they like and there’s going to be some things they can pull from me that they don’t like and say, ‘I don’t want that.’ But I think that I have enough qualities that Miami has seen that they like and they would like another quarterback to have in them.”
Regardless of whether Tagovailoa is a Day 1 starter — which Fitzpatrick said would be asking a lot of the rookie — the NFL veteran is ready to mentor him in whatever capacity Miami deems best.
Said Fitzpatrick: “I want to pass on all these lessons and experiences I’ve learned to younger guys because when I came in (the NFL), I had the same thing, guys that taught and showed me the way.”