There was no need for Jordan Mailata to ever even think about playing American Football. At an imposing 6’8 and 345 pounds, Mailata was already a rising star on the South Sydney Rabbitohs. However, after realizing that he may be too big to play professional rugby full time, Mailata decided that he had to think about his own future. After hearing from a scout that he could potentially play in the NFL if he developed his game enough, Mailata decided to pack his bags and go to Florida to train at IMG Academy. The Samoan was tasked with learning the game of football from scratch. From a rugby sensation to a potential NFL mismatch, the story of Jordan Mailata is a very interesting one concerning the Eagles future on the offensive line.
When he first came to the US, Mailata decided that he wanted to play the position of offensive tackle. After training 12 hours a day with Aden Durde, the renowned coach who specializes in training foreign NFL hopefuls, Mailata was able to perform spectacularly at his workouts for NFL teams. Scouts and talent evaluators alike knew Mailata was a rare physical specimen. An NFC executive even commented that Mailata was a “freak athlete for his size.” Boasting 35 ½ inch arms, a 5.12-second 40-yard dash, and an 8.03 3-cone drill, Mailata was originally given a chance to transfer to football for his athletic ability. When he was drafted by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL draft, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman knew that he was taking a huge risk on the mauler. Fast forward to today, and the 233rd pick in 2018 has just played in his first preseason action and has shown glimpses of how good he could become.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was content with Mailata’s first game stating:
“I was excited for him. To watch him, to see him. I know he was a little nervous there early and once he kind of settled in, I thought he did some good things. But it’s going to — it’s a work in progress with him, and we knew that going into it. He’s going to get a lot of time this preseason to play, and he’ll just continue to get better. But once he settled down, he did some good things.”
With the proper coaching and enough reps in the preseason, Jordan Mailata will be able to able to gather enough tape to learn his own play style and evolve into a better player.
When analyzing Mailata in his first preseason game, there’s a lot to like. Although he did give up a sack early, the 21-year-old was able to recover and play well for the rest of the game, allowing just 2 pressures in 32 offensive snaps.
Mailata stated “Having one of your first plays be a sack, that’s a massive learning curve,’’ Mailata said after the game. “But after I gave that sack up, I had that next-play mentality. I just focused on the next play.”
For the rest of the game, Mailata did not surrender a sack. He displayed his brute strength and athleticism against the second string Steelers linebackers and defensive linemen. Mailata was quick when firing off the line of scrimmage, even if he overextended many times during his first step while pass blocking. The kick step is something that Mailata will learn with time, however, especially with Jason Peters and Lane Johnson tutoring him before and after the game. The entire Eagles offensive line has contributed to helping Jordan figure out the tackle position. This sense of “unity” will surely help Mailata develop into a sharper offensive tackle during the rest of the preseason.
Even Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is seriously contributed to helping Mailata achieve his true potential, stating that Mailata’s development and improvement daily are “really good.” Stoutland even went as far as to say “[Mailata’s] got danger written all over him. He can run fast, he’s big. There’s a lot of things he has to learn, but how many people have those things? He’s unique.”
This high praise from one of the NFL’s greatest offensive line coaches shows that Mailata truly does have the potential to be a problem as an offensive tackle. With a great support system in Philadelphia, Mailata has a chance to significantly develop his game. Although Mailata knows that he is a long shot to make the Eagle’s roster for the 2018 season, he already has set up a 3-year plan for himself.
Mailata’s plan is as follows:
Year 1: “Learn as much as I can; be that sponge.”
Year 2: “Evaluate where I’m at again. If I’m able to play, then play. If not, keep learning.”
Year 3: “Play.”
With the Eagles bookend left tackle Jason Peters already turning 36, Mailata could be the replacement if everything goes perfectly to plan. Obviously, Mailata’s chance of actually starting at tackle for the Eagle’s is a long shot. However, day by day, Mailata is getting better at the offensive tackle position. In a few years and with the proper support system, the Samoan mauler may be able to become a starter for the Eagles. It’ll just take patience for Eagle’s fans to see how Mailata’s career turns out.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports