So, the Eagles just traded up to pick No. 223 to snag Australian rugby star Jordan Mailata. He may not have American football experience, but the tackler’s size — at 6-8, 346 pounds— and collection of highlights at least lends to some excitement about his potential.
Mailata was in Arlington for the draft, and sat down with the NFL Network crew after his seventh round pick. In between some awkward exchanges about what his rugby team’s mascot was and whether Russell Crowe signed his paychecks, the latest Eagles pick spoke about the transition between both sports and continents.
To open things, Mailata was asked why he wanted to play football in the first place. He seemed a little surprised in a “dude, I get to hit people”-way, but quipped, “It’s a fun sport. Why not.”
He explained that he was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next in his life, and after making a highlight video and sending it to NFL execs, he packed a bag and headed to California to start training. Mailata has been learning the fundamentals of football for the last three to four months, and doesn’t pretend to know it all, “I know I’m far behind, it’s a challenge.”
While he still might have some of the basics to get under his belt, he’s got the athleticism, size and tackling ability to deserve some development. During his interview Mike Mayock tried to convince him to try out a tight end — as a rugby player, Mailata can definitely catch — but the OT didn’t bite, “I’m enjoying my time at offensive tackle.”
When asked what he knows about Philadelphia, “They’re the Super Bowl Champions.”
Well, Mailata, that’s about all you need to know to fit in around here!