It feels like an eternity ago that the Eagles took a flyer on Jordan Mailata. Picked in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Mailata stood at 6’8, 346 lbs, and brought a ridiculously athletic skillset to the table. But two years, 0 NFL snaps, and some back problems later, the experiment seemed to be all but over…until it wasn’t.
Things took a turn for the worst this Summer. Mailata needed this offseason and he needed it badly. His development from year-one to year-two was notable, but there were still notable holes in his game. In his rookie preseason, it was easy to be stunned by just how almost-NFL-ready he looked in such a short space of time. Year two drew harsher attention to detail and showed a player still struggling to judge his kick-backs and gauge leverage and movement of edge-rushers. Handling inside moves was easy because the guy is a man mountain. Anything that required lateral movement highlighted just how much he was still leaning on that raw athleticism.
With no OTA’s or preseason, Mailata had just a matter of weeks to get up to speed. Depth was diminishing following Andre Dillard’s injury and it felt as though he could well be called upon at some stage. This was alarming given that Mailata was being worked all Summer long by Joe Ostman, who constantly had the big dancing Bear on strings. Come the end of Camp, it was clear he was still some way off where the Eagles needed him to be.
But as the weeks went by, the Eagles started to run out of options. Jason Peters was unable to play in week 4 having already shuffled back to tackle (and taken a bonus with him) after picking up a knock, forcing the Eagles to deploy the Aussie in his first start of the season.
The Niners may have a depleted front-four and this was no Nick Bosa assignment, but Kerry Hyder is a familiar name to many and an edge rusher and someone who once put together an 8 sack campaign in Detroit 5 years ago.
Jordan Mailata played in 62 snaps last night, including 38 pass protection reps. He surrendered a single pressure, 0 QB hits, and 0 sacks, according to PFF.
Jeff Stoutland deserves a world of praise for the work done with Jordan Mailata. We didn’t know what he’d look like in year 3, but the wizarding OL coach has cast yet another spell that has left us all in absolute awe.
For the most part, Mailata flew under the radar, which is about as big of a compliment as you could give a tackle making his first NFL start and first taste of competitive action since August last year. He naturally drew the praise of Doug Pederson in the process.
“I think the best way to describe Jordan when he first came and we’ve talked about this before, every day that he came into the building here was a new day for him. He was kind of re-learning the things he learned from the day before, and he has grown — in three years, he has grown so much with just understanding the game of football and how to play the game of football, let alone executing the offense, right?
Just learning how to play, just learning how to take a big body and move it around differently than what he was used to, and like I said, he’s come a long, long way in his development and his growth. I thought there were some really good things yesterday by him. You know, he’s a big man obviously. He’s strong and when he is 100 percent accurate on what he’s doing on that particular play, it’s hard for defenders to get around him, whether it’s a pass block or a run block, when he’s right. So he’s still a work-in-progress. He’s still like a ball of clay that we are shaping and molding and making into a left tackle.”
That once-rough ball of Clay is now beginning to take a very visible shape and structure. With Jason Peters on injured reserve, we will likely get to see at least a couple of more starts from Jordan Mailata before the Eagles make a decision on whether or not to ride the development of their young project, or go back to a familiar, less durable face.
His next few opponents won’t exactly be easy, either. The Steelers and Ravens lie ahead as immediate roadblocks, with each bringing a terrifying challenge. If Mailata can continue to find his confidence and hold his own, then the Eagles’ offensive line factory may well be in the process of churning out another well-polished product.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire
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