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Dolphins decide to gamble on QB Tagovailoa’s durability

MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins decided to gamble on Tua Tagovailoa’s durability and made the Alabama quarterback the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.

The Dolphins hope Tagovailoa can become a franchise quarterback and the centerpiece of their rebuilding effort that began a year ago. They were undeterred by his long injury history, most recently a dislocated and fractured hip that ended his 2019 season in mid-November.

Last month doctors cleared Tagovailoa to run and begin football activities, and his agent has said his client is healthy and will be ready for training camp. That would allow Tagovailoa to compete with returning starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is 37 and in a caretaker role.

Even before Miami’s offseason began, team owner Stephen Ross said the priority was to acquire a franchise quarterback. To start a draft widely considered the Dolphins’ most consequential in many years, they took a quarterback with their first pick for only the second time since 1983.

Tagovailoa threw 76 touchdown passes in 24 starts the past two seasons. He replaced Jalen Hurts in the national championship game two years ago and rallied Alabama past Georgia, and the following season he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

NFL talent evaluators doubted Tagovailoa only because of his health. Along with the hip injury, which at one point was feared to be career-threatening, the left-hander has had surgery on both ankles and the index finger of his throwing hand.

The Dolphins stockpiled picks last year while enduring a 5-11 season under first-year coach Brian Flores. They also had the 18th and 26th picks in the first round, and three selections Friday, including the seventh and 24th in the second round.

That gives them five of the top 56 choices as they try to build a team around Tagovailoa. They’ve already spent $235 million to sign 10 free agents.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine

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