The fact that seventh round draft pick Jordan Mailata made the final 53-man roster is one of the best stories this offseason. Not only had he never played a football game in his life, but at only 21 years old, was trying something new halfway around the world from where he calls home.
A Sidney, Australia-native, Mailata was an accomplished rugby player before deciding to try his hand at American football. He made a video and shipped to the States, and the next thing you know, he’s on a flight and starting to train as an offensive tackle.
While he might not have had experience, he also didn’t have any bad habits to correct. He was the perfect, gigantic ball of clay for Jeff Stoutland and the Eagles coaching staff to mold. At 6’8 and nearly 360 pounds, his size and potential were enough for the OL coach to send video-after-video to Howie Roseman during one of Mailata’s workouts.
Roseman spoke earlier this weekend about how rare it is for Stoutland to get that excited about a player, and if you re-watch Mailata during draft night, you can see the investment Stout was willing to make. During his portion of the call to the Aussie, Stoutland emphasizes that he’ll have “all the support in the World” in Philly as he makes the transition to a new sport and a new country.
Mailata couldn’t stop crying after getting the call from the front office and coaches on the final day of the draft, and as Howie pointed out in his recent press conference, the team wouldn’t have traded two picks to move up if they weren’t willing to invest the time and resources into developing the team’s now youngest player.
In case you needed more reasons to root on Jordan Mailata, just watching the moment he became an Eagle should put a smile on your face. His journey should be fun to watch. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/gl8CgogaVd— Gayle Saunders (@EagleSessions) September 2, 2018
It isn’t just the coaching staff, front office and fans excited about the rugby transfer, Roseman talked about players throughout the team stepping up to help Mailata acclimate to his new role on the offensive line. It isn’t just guys along the line, but defenders willing to give the young player a view of the field from all perspectives.
He has spent extra time after practice, and has dedicated himself to improving each game — which Howie and Doug Pederson both lauded following the team’s final roster cuts.
Mailata is a bright spot among this year’s group of rookies, and has all the potential in the world to be an elite football player with enough time to develop. The entire Eagles organization seems to support molding him into their next pro bowler.
His teammates aren’t just focused on getting him acclimated to on the field, they’ve taken to showing him around Philly and America as well.
And this:— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) August 31, 2018
“We went to a Mexican restaurant the other day, El Vez. He didn’t even know what an enchilada was. He’s out there blocking the edges in the NFL. It’s crazy.”
They’ve got to be having a great time playing tour guide, but more so, it’s nice for the 21-year old so far from home to have a whole bunch of brothers to keep him company.