INDIANAPOLIS -- On the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's first official job interview already qualified as epic.
The 337 prospects spending four days in Indianapolis are openly evaluated by scouts, coaches, personnel men and medical professionals. The doctors got first crack at Tua.
Here's how Tagovailoa spent his Monday: Arrive at medical evaluation with other players at his position at around 10 a.m. at the University of Indiana medical facility near downtown Indy. Tests included routine athletic physical testing but branched beyond what Tagovailoa thought was coming. He didn't return to the players' hotel across from Lucas Oil Stadium until 7:49 p.m. with 11 minutes to spare before his first scheduled informal team interview.
"It's been a process now," Tagovailoa said in a forgiving tone. "I was the last (prospect) to leave (the hospital)."
Tagovailoa said he and agent Leigh Steinberg are meeting with team doctors to learn any information gleaned from those tests but no surprises are expected. After a showdown with media at the Indiana Convention Center on Tuesday morning, Tagovailoa is moving ahead to formal team interviews the next two days. He's planning to be back on the field in a few weeks. Based on his most recent surgeon visit, Tagovailoa is operating as if he'll be cleared March 9.
"I'll be holding my own pro day April 9," he said, adding that the on-field activity is more of a comfort zone. "You guys are making me talk about myself, making me feel uncomfortable."
The April 9 workout is later than Alabama's official pro day on March 24, but is expected to fall on the same week players with lingering injury evaluations are summoned back to Indianapolis for the combine re-check.
Discomfort became a regular for Tagovailoa at Alabama. He had hand, ankle and hip injuries scrutinized by doctors and said he's focused forward, not willing to feel sorry for himself while being in position to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a quarterback vacancy with Andy Dalton not returning and have closely studied Tua the person and prospect, head coach Zac Taylor said Tuesday.
"Met Tua last night. Really impressive individual," Taylor said. "State champion in high school, won a college championship of course. The guy has been a champion at every level. You want to go through the background on every player. See these guys get a chance to work this spring. He's going to get a chance to work out. He's a guy we've been excited to see work."
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young are projected to be the first two players selected. Tagovailoa said he spends zero time on social media and hasn't dedicated attention to where he might be drafted.
"Whether it's first, 32nd or 200, I'll be grateful," Tagovailoa said. "These informal interviews, I've just got to be myself. If I'm not the right person for these teams, I'm not the person. The right team will find me."
--By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media