When you’re the Super Bowl champions and have a young roster that’s solid from top to bottom, you can take some chances in the NFL draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles did so with their last pick, No. 233 overall in the seventh round, when they selected a mountain of a man who has never played football.
Jordan Mailata stands 6 feet 8 inches tall, with 35.5-inch arms, and weighs 346 pounds. He’s also an athlete.
Mailata is a professional rugby league sensation in Australia who wants to make the jump to American football as an offensive tackle.
The @Eagles just drafted Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata.
— NFL (@NFL) April 28, 2018
The 20-year-old had a pro day in Tampa, Florida, last month and impressed NFL scouts. Mailata ran the 40-yard dash in 5.12 seconds, which would have put him at seventh among tackles at the NFL Combine in February. He also performed well in the short shuttle with a time of 4.67 seconds, which would have ranked in the top 10 at his position, and put up 22 reps on the bench press.
His size and athleticism were enough to persuade the Eagles to roll the dice on him with their last draft pick in the hopes he can be transformed into a Jonathan Ogden or Mike Munoz — or at least a solid starter.
— NFLAustralia (@NFLAustralia) April 29, 2018
Mailata was overcome with emotion when he got the call.
The moment Jordan Mailata gets drafted to the @Eagles
— NFLAustralia (@NFLAustralia) April 28, 2018
“It’s been an absolute brainstorm of an experience,” he said Saturday on the NFL Network’s “NFL Draft Live.”
Mailata told NFL.com before the draft that he had a memorable visit with Philadelphia offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
“After the first set of meetings with him doing board and film work, every other meeting I had [with other coaches and front office personnel], he was just in,” he said. “The ever-presence of a man, out of nowhere he would just pop up to see what I was doing.”
Some people on Twitter had fun with Mailata’s stature.
— Matt (@MattNoVA44) April 29, 2018
Jordan Mailata when he suits up pic.twitter.com/XjaW7yjOkH
— John (@JAngiolillo_7) April 29, 2018
Mailata, whose Samoan parents immigrated to New Zealand and then to Australia years before he was born, knows it will be a long road, telling NFL.com that his goal is to play in a regular season game in three years.
“The last three or four months have not been easy — mentally challenging as well as physically,” Mailata said via the Eagles team site. “Trying to understand the basics and fundamentals of football has been a great task. So little knowledge before I came in, but I can happily say now that I can understand concepts and am beginning to have a step in the right direction.”
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