Eagles Remain Excited Over ‘The Big Developmental’ Jordan Mailata
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Everything about Jordan Mailata is big.
From the obvious -- his imposing 6-foot-8, 360-pound frame -- to the hidden - his outgoing personality behind the scenes.
Perhaps the biggest part of his story -- the thought of someone making an NFL roster after never playing one down of organized football at any level before arriving in Philadelphia -- has been eclipsed by the hype surrounding the affable Aussie.
First it was long-time offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, who compared Mailata's natural footwork to future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, and then another former journeyman O-Lineman, Ross Tucker, took it a step further.
"I no longer think 21-year-old Aussie LT Jordan Mailata is going to be a starting LT in the NFL. I think he's going to be All-Pro," Tucker excitedly tweeted. "Borderline obsessed with this dude at this point. This is crazy. Eagles are going to go right from Peters to Peters Jr."
After Thursday's preseason finale against the Jets, Mailata, still technically unaware he had a spot on the 53-man roster, just laughed it off.
"What's he drinkin'," the 21-year-old deadpanned.
While the God-given physical gifts turn former NFL players into 1960s school girls screaming at The Beatles, the most impressive part of Mailata's "skill set" has been his self-awareness.
No matter how many people race to social media hoping to be first with their hot take while secure in the knowledge if wrong, most will simply forget, Mailata just works with the understanding the next decade-plus in the NFL is not guaranteed, never mind just a necessary pit stop on the way to Canton.
“I love those comments,” Mailata said after the jokes died down. “It gives me hope. It makes me want to train harder, work on the stuff I do, coming from no experience, it’s great to see ex-NFL players and what they’re saying. It gives me hope but I know I’m still at the bottom of the food chain and I’ll get there.”
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman, who traded up in the seventh round to secure Mailata back in April, explained the Eagles plan for Mailata at his press conference on Saturday.
"When we made this pick, we committed in the draft room that we knew it wasn't going to be a short-term process, and if we were just going to get into camp and say, hey, the guy is raw and not really have this developmental mindset that we had to give him a two-year time period to get it right, it wouldn't have made sense for us to trade two picks for him," Roseman explained. "So, we committed at that moment that, hey, if the guy looks like he has the traits we think he has, then we're going to commit to him and we're going to develop him and we're going to have him on our 53, and he's just going to be the 53rd guy."
That was the conversation in the draft room, according to Roseman. Even the Eagles are a bit surprised about how quickly Mailata is picking things up but pumped the brakes of some of the hyperbole being thrown around outside the NovaCare Complex.
"The strides he's taken have been to us impressive and exciting, and he's got to continue to do it," Roseman assessed. "There's no question about it. The level of competition increases certainly when you get into the regular season. But that was our plan for him when we drafted him. We were going to make sure that we spent the time developing him, and we're going to continue doing that."
So Mailata is the 53rd guy but he's the 53rd guy with the size of a WWE superstar, the feet of Joe Thomas and the athleticism of a young Jason Peters, transitioning from tight end to All-Pro left tackle.
"The strides that he's taken have just been incredible," Roseman said. "You saw it in the Cleveland game. You saw it against the Jets. He just gets better and better. It's so hard to find guys who are 6-8 and 360 pounds, who can run like that and who have the core strength that he does. Certainly, there's no guarantees, but we want to develop players, and when you can find guys at hard-to-find positions to develop, it gets you excited."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen