The Eagles went down an intriguing route with 233rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, selecting a former rugby league player who has never played a single down of football.
Jordan Mailata, formerly of the NRL's South Sydney Rabbitohs, is now headed to Philly as an offensive lineman.
The 6-8, 346-pounder is a physical specimen of some proportions and impressed multiple teams in his workouts in the build up to the draft. The 20-year-old has enormous upside and looking at his impressive rugby highlights, it's not hard to see why Howie Roseman took a chance on him in the seventh round.
"It's been an absolute brainstorm of an experience." Mailata said on NFL Network after being drafted.
The Eagles had been impressed by the Australian's athleticism at his pro day where he ran an impressive 40-yard dash time of 5.12 seconds, the seventh best amongst all tackles in the draft class. Following that, they hosted him for a private workout earlier this month and Mailata noted that offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland had shown strong interest in him.
"After the first set of meetings with him doing board and film work, every other meeting I had [with other coaches and front office personnel], he was just in," the 20-year-old said. "The ever-presence of a man, out of nowhere he would just pop up to see what I was doing."
So, whilst it may not have been a shock that it was the reigning Super Bowl champions that took the chance on him, the moment he got the call from them was clearly still a special one for Mailata.
In fact, the Eagles liked him so much they traded up from 250th to 233rd to get him, sending 2019 seventh rounders to the Patriots as compensation.
Mailata is just the second international player in NFL history to be drafted, following the Vikings' selection of wide receiver Moritz Boehringer in the sixth round of the 2016 draft.
Boehringer's release in 2017, without even playing a game, shows to some extent how difficult it will be for Mailata to earn any kind of playing time in the regular season. Despite his freakish physical traits, learning the nuances of the game at one of the most brutal positions on the field will be a huge challenge.
A practice squad spot might be a more realistic goal for the former rugby star in the near future, but his immense size and speed will give him a great chance to make an active roster provided he takes to the technical side of things well.News Now - Sport News