“With the 233rd pick of the 2018 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select Jordan Mailata, tackle, Sydney, Australia.” With those words, the NFL now has another rugby player. And he’s a big one.
Similar to Jarryd Hayne, the rugby star who gave American football a try in 2015 with the 49ers, 21-year-old Jordan Mailata entered the NFL draft and was taken in the seventh round by the Eagles.
Breaking down Mailata’s scouting reports, here are a few quick pros and cons:
Pros: Mailata is 6-foot-8, weighs in around 350 pounds and is athletic enough to tear through a rugby pitch like a freight train.
Cons: Mailata has never played organized American football before. Usually, that is a detriment to an NFL career.
Per NFL.com, Mailata, who previously played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, took part in a pro day in March at the Buccaneers’ practice facility and the results were impressive. Both his 40-yard time (5.12 seconds) and short shuttle (4.67 seconds) would have been top 10 times at the 2018 NFL combine, though it’s worth remembering pro day conditions can be friendly to a player’s measurable. Drafted as an offensive tackle, Mailata now has plenty to learn about the finer points of blocking, but he possesses such a rare combination of size and athleticism that the Eagles decided to spend a draft pick on him.
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“It’s a fun sport, you know? Why not give it a try? Being 21 years of age, give it a try. I’m still young,” Mailata said in an interview with NFL Network. “I know I’m far behind. It’s a challenge and it’s something I knew I had to take on.”
Mailata appeared excited to be selected, a sentiment probably shared with just about every rugby player who no longer has to tackle him.
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