Eagles Trade Up for Australian Rugby Player Jordan Mailata
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles moved up 17 spots in the final round of the NFL Draft to take Australian Rugby Player Jordan Mailata.
Philadelphia sent a 2019 seventh-round selection to New England to make the move and listed the athletic 6-foot-8, 350-pound Samoan as an offensive tackle.
Mailata is obviously a very raw developmental prospect with scary measurables and was not expecting to be drafted.
"My agent knew somebody from the NFL as part of this International Player Pathway Program. So, he emailed them the highlights and they were intrigued by them," Mailata said.
Mailata has been training for the NFL at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., took part in a pro day in Tampa for international players and visited a number of teams, including the Eagles.
Through it all Jeff Stoutland took a keen interest in him.
"I guess he was just challenging me based on coachability, that’s one thing that he said," Mailata said of the Eagles offensive line coach. "He said, ‘It is one thing if you’re able to be an athlete, but if you can’t be coachable there is no point of drafting you or signing you because if you can’t be coached then there is no point in playing a team sport.’
"So that’s one thing that he challenged me was to see if I was coachable and see if I could understand what he was asking of me in that moment, either if it was on the board or on the field with the task that he was showing me with the drills."
Obviously it worked as the Eagles even climbed the latter to get Mailate.
Mailata, who was in Dallas for the draft, remarked that Philadelphia selecting him was "a brainstorm of an experience."
"I had to weigh the pros and cons before I made this decision come," Mailata said. "I knew that if I made the decision, it has to be all in, and that is what I have been giving it. The last three or four months have not been a walk in the park."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen