While the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to the New York Giants was ugly in all facets on the offensive side of the football, the play of left tackle Jordan Mailata has flown under the radar for far too long. A native of Bankstown, New South Wales, Australia, the 6-foot-8 mountain of a man initially made his name as a rugby standout.
A product of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, 2021 is just Mailata’s second year of playing American Football. A talent who was seen himself undergo a dramatic transformation over the last handful of years, going from the guy who splashed Gatorade all over his face during a break in practice because he didn't know how to take his helmet off, to beating out Eagles first-rounder Andre Dillard, to a starting left tackle in the NFL on the heels of signing a sparkling new four-year, $64M contract extension, which, to this point, has looked like an extreme bargain due to his dominating play thus far, Mailata has become one of the sport’s most athletic, physically imposing anchors.
Through 12 weeks, Mailata has played every snap. While the faces around him have continued to shuffle, his play has enjoyed an upward arc within an offense that has constantly evolved under Shane Steichen. Against the pass rush, Mailata has been impenetrable…I mean that literally.
In 336 snaps in pass pro, Mailata has allowed just two sacks as Jalen Hurts’ blindside protector. And while Hurts’ ability and Steichen’s knack for getting his dual-threat signal-caller out in space factors into his sack totals, spotlighting Mailata has seen him consistently stifle opposing edge threats, often finishing with a defender on his back side.
In the run game, he’s been just as, if not more impressive, leading the way for one of the league’s top ground attacks. A human Mack Truck of sorts, despite his massive frame, Mailata’s background flattening and running through defenders on a rugby pitch has been more than evident on tape this fall.
A talent north of 360 pounds, his reported 5.12 40-yard dash and a 4.67 short shuttle at a pre-draft IPP combine are numbers that pop off his prospect report. When you flip on the tape of when he’s under fire within the trenches, he looks even quicker, with a second-level burst that often sees defenders blown off their feet five yards away from the play. Whether Steichen asks him to pull, get outside on tunnel screens, or carry a 5-tech to the boundary on zone run concepts, he’s done it all for the Eagles through 12 games.
One of the highest graded tackles in football as we near the ever-important playoff stretch for teams across football, Mailata’s highlight play last Sunday against the New York Giants didn’t come in the trenches. It wasn’t a devastating pancake where he bulldozed a defender, or a showcase of his athleticism in open space, rather, it came on Hurts’ first of his three interceptions on the afternoon.
Just like his days playing Rugby, Mailata became a heat-seeking missile once he saw Holmes wrangle down Hurts’ pass. As the Giants safety turns upfield to gain extra grass after picking off Hurts, No. 68 flies into your screen, lighting Holmes up at the 20-yard line. It was a hit so hard that it, unfortunately, put the Giants’ 2020 fourth-round pick in the hospital—and on injured reserve—with a rib injury.
It’s not hard to see why Mailata has solidified his spot at left tackle for the foreseeable future under head coach Nick Sirianni. A talent with every physical trait you could hope for as a bookend anchor, Mailata has improved with every snap he’s earned. An international prospect whose familiarity with the NFL game is still in its honeymoon stages, Mailata has rapidly become one of the Eagles’ youth-infused cornerstones where the sky is truly the limit on his progressing skill set.