Best Birds Under 24: Jordan Mailata

The Man, the Myth, the Legend himself. That’s right. Jordan Mailata is next up in our series of the Best Birds Under 24. The Australian rugby playing, guitar plucking, angel voiced, physical freak of nature is heading into his second season with the Eagles. 

2018/2019 Summary

Mailata was drafted by the Eagles in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. Of course, he wasn’t your typical draftee, as he was a rugby player who had never played a down of American football in his life.

The Eagles were clearly enticed by Mailata’s potential regardless. He made the team out of camp despite briefly appearing in the preseason. 

Mailata was kept inactive for almost the whole season before being placed on injured reserve in December. He never saw game action, but he gained valuable experience by playing on the scout team during practice. 

Strengths and Weaknesses

Mailata’s biggest advantage is his size. Standing at 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 346 pounds, the Aussie towers over most other players on the field. He also moves well for his size, something that he clearly developed from playing rugby.

After allowing a sack on his first ever snap, Mailata then showed why the Eagles were willing to take a chance on him. The 22 year old can flat out bully defensive lineman with his sheer size and athleticism and toss them aside like trash. 

Mailata looked pretty good during the preseason for a guy who quite literally knew nothing about playing football, let alone the techniques of an offensive tackle. In fact, he looked so good, it got some buzz around the league. 

Comparing someone who didn’t play football at all until last year with a future Hall Of Famer like Jason Peters might seem a bit excessive, but there are some similarities. 

Peters had similar size and weight (6 ft 4 1/2 in, 328 lb) to Mailata when he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills in 2004. He had to fight to make the team and had no experience playing offensive line, as he was a defensive lineman and then a tight end in college. 

Peters then developed into one of the best left tackles in the league for over a decade. The Bodyguard learned how to use his size and athleticism to dominate opposing pass rushers. The Eagles are hoping offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland can work the same magic in coaching up Mailata.

Obviously, Mailata’s biggest weakness is his inexperience. He is learning on the fly how to play the sport of football, let alone how to play in the NFL. He is very raw and has a lot of untapped potential, but has shown flashes and has reportedly made great strides in practice. 

Role for 2019

Mailata will most likely serve as the third string offensive tackle. The Eagles have Peters and former All-Pro Lane Johnson as the starters. Their primary pair of backups are swing man Halapoulivaati Vaitai and first round pick Andre Dillard. However, Peters’ only played 79% of the team’s offensive snaps last year, leaving multiple games with nagging injuries. 

It would take serious injuries to both starters and one of the backups for Mailata to see the field in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t developing. Another year of practice and tutoring from Stoutland can only benefit Mailata. 

2019 Season Expectations and Predictions

The only expectation for Mailata should be to continue improving in practice. He is not going to be counted on to play barring a catastrophe. He should continue working on his routine and learning behind the scenes and learn from the limited game reps he gets in the preseason.

The Eagles may choose to get creative with Mailata if he is ever active this season. Fans have been wondering what he could do with the ball in his hands as a running back in a goal line or 4th and short situation. After all, his rugby tape shows that he has the ability to bowl over would be tacklers, and the Eagles did struggle in some short yardage situations last year.