The Philadelphia Eagles have shown in the past how willing they are to think outside the box when it comes to improving their roster. After signing Adam Zaruba to a futures deal this offseason, the Eagles are giving another former rugby star a chance at the NFL in Jordan Mailata.
The Eagles are one of five teams that have contacted Maliata for a workout and have a scheduledi t for Wednesday. Maliata worked out with the Washington Redskins Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday, will work out for the the Cleveland Browns Thursday, and Los Angeles Chargers Friday. Mailata, 21, is 6-8 and 346 pounds, a prototypical size for offensive tackle in the NFL, which is want Maliata is seeking to play.
“I’m quite surprised at how much interest I’ve sparked up in the past couple of months,” said Mailata, a former forward for South Syndey Rabbitohs, Australian rugby league team based in Redfern, a suburb of inner-southern Sydney, New South Wales. “Being out of the sport and not knowing that much about it. I’m pretty privileged and honored to receive invites to the clubs, so cheerios to them. Being out of the sport and not knowing that much about it. I’m pretty privileged and honored to receive invites to the clubs, so cheerios to them.”
Mailata, who took part in the University of Florida’s Pro Day, discussed the transition from rugby to football.
“It’s very different … (but) I’m loving the transition and love learning the game,” he said. “It’s been great so far.”
He’s never played a down of American football, but former Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata is trying to make the transition to the NFL.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) April 9, 2018
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Mailata was also asked why he’s giving professional football a try after already making his niche in rugby.
“I think it’s more of challenging myself,” he said. “Being only 21 now, I’m still young and I wanna make a name for myself and see what I can do and see what happens.”
The Eagles typically only carry three tackles on their 53-man roster (Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai), but bringing in a player like Mailata is not uncommon and allows him to develop during minicamp and training camp, especially with a whole offseason under offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
If the Eagles sign Mailata, they will develop him throughout minicamp and give him (and his massive frame) an opportunity to make an impression on the coaching staff as training camp arrives. Because Mailata is an international player, the Eagles would get a free spot on the practice squad in 2018 (would be allowed to carry 11 players instead of 10) if they wish to keep him around and develop him.
The Eagles signed Zaruba prior to training camp last season, so they have experience with developing rugby stars. The 6-4, 277 pound Zaruba spent the 2017 preseason with the Eagles, finishing with two catches for 17 yards. Zaruba will be back with the Eagles this offseason, signing him to a futures deal.