Aussie hulk Mailata poised to make impression in NFL
AUSSIE NFL hulk Jordan Mailata has made plenty of headlines despite not playing a snap of football during the regular-season play.
in his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles, Mailata has captured the imagination of the US with his incredible size, speed and potential.
The Eagles have high hopes for the recently beefed up 163kg giant, pick 233 in the 2018 draft, selecting him in the 53-man roster in back-to-back seasons as the club looks to develop the 22-year-old from Bankstown, Sydney.
But with Mailata having sat out practice with a back injury in recent weeks, his hopes of playing early in the season have already taken a hi.
Mailata started as a left tackle but the Eagles selected college star Andre Dillard as back-up in that position in the first round of the draft.
That resulted in Mailata switching to the right for the new season.
It's his role to block the defensive players from getting to the quarterback.
For the Eagles, that's Carson Wentz, who extended his stay at the team until 2024 earlier this year, and is set to earn $188 million for the four years.
It went back to February 2018 when Eagle assistant coach Jeff Stoutland was preparing to go on a golf trip but was was sent on a scouting trip to Florida to check out former rugby league prospect Mailata.
A video did the trick for Stoutland, who jumped on a plane to check Mailata out in the NFL's International Player Pathway program.
Mailata quickly impressed in the tests, including the 40-yard dash, shuttle runs and agility drills, which put him in the top ranks of the offensive tackle prospects of the season.
"In my years of coaching, I probably haven't had anybody who looks like that, top to bottom," Jay Butler, a former NFL strength and conditioning coach who worked with Mailata at IMG, told ESPN.
But offensive tackle takes plenty of technical knowledge.
The NYT article states: "One mistake can cost a team a game - or a season, if the error results in a $30-million-a-year quarterback's leaving the field on an injury cart", showcasing the importance of the position.
Stoutland was impressed straight away, he recalled in the article.
"Right away, I was like, 'Hello!'," he said. "You better pay close attention here."
He was standing next to a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"We were both looking at each other, like, holy cow, what are we seeing here?"
His development has stunned the league, and seasoned veterans are behind the Aussie man mountain.
"Borderline obsessed with this dude at this point. This is crazy," Ross Tucker, a former NFL lineman turned broadcaster, tweeted before projecting Mailata as a future All-Pro.
Among other revelations in the piece was that Mailata chose to chase a job in the NFL because he didn't have much of a future in rugby league.
He was languishing in the under-20 squad for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, earning $12,000 a season and working on a demolition crew.
This year, he'll earn $A840,000 with the Eagles.
He had also been also told by the Rabbitohs to lose weight, and struggled to work out how.
"It's a free-flow game with barely any stoppage," Mailata explained.
"They thought I couldn't keep up. I didn't agree - I was down to 310 and they wanted me to lose 30 more pounds.
"I already had hardly any body fat, so it was an option where I'd either have to starve myself or chop off a leg. I talked to my agency, and they said, 'Why don't you play a sport that appreciates your size?'"
His teammates definitely appreciate his size.
"We're all pretty big, relatively speaking, but he's probably the biggest human being I've ever seen," Stefen Wisniewski, a 6.3'', 305-pound offensive guard, said for the NYT piece.
But it's also the skill that has the US salivating.
Former NFL lineman Brian Baldinger told the NYT he originally hadn't thought much of the selection of Mailata in the 2018 draft.
"When they took him in the draft, I was like, OK, they drafted King Kong, but the game's too complex and that's too complex a position," Baldinger said.
"He may learn some techniques, but there's no way he can stand up to the real-time demands of a game.
"But he does. He played 250 snaps this summer, and he had four bad ones. He moves people off the line of scrimmage. His hands are really good. He has a very consistent pass set.
"He'll have to wait a little bit to play because the Eagles have such a strong offensive line, but I can tell you he'd be starting for several other NFL teams right now."
Expect to hear a lot more about Jordan Mailata this season.