Why Jordan Mailata has all the makings of a franchise left tackle

The 2020 season was one of the more frustrating seasons in recent memory for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles finished dead last in one of the worst divisions in NFL history. Their final tally of four wins was their lowest win total since 2012.

After winning the Super Bowl in 2017, they seemed destined to be among the cutting edge of NFL organizations. Instead, they have decreased their win total in each successive year.

In a whirlwind of head-scratching selections from GM Howie Roseman, one of the few pleasant surprises came in the seventh round of 2018 when they picked a guy who never played football before.

The story of Jordan Mailata is one of the more impressive ascensions in recent memory. The 6’8″ mammoth of a man was the Eagles final selection in the 2018 draft.

He tore up the Australian rugby circuit for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs under-18 team as well as the South Sydney Rabbitohs under-20 team:

He decided to give American football a shot and posted ridiculous numbers at his Pro Day recording a 5.12 40-yard dash along with a 4.67 20-yard short shuttle.

Even though he was rumored to potentially be on the chopping block last summer, 2019 1st round pick Andre Dillard tore his bicep early in camp opening up a window of opportunity for Mailata.

Mailata was thrusted into action week one against Washington after a few injuries. The injuries continued to pile on the Eagles offensive line early and often as he went on to appear in 15 games, starting in 10 of them. The young Aussie surrended 32 total pressures and seven sacks on 502 pass-blocking snaps.

Seven sacks may sound like a lot but there is some missing context. Among the Eagles makeshift OL, Mailata played the most pass pro snaps among the bunch. With a team as messy as Philly, they found themselves trailing in most games for large portions making life more difficult for the guys up front. And to make matters worse, before his benching, Wentz generally held the ball way too long trying to play hero ball.

Furthermore, according to PFF, in Dillard’s one year of action, he surrendered 25 total pressures on 183 pass-blocking snaps. Mailata averaged giving up a pressure every 16 pass-pro snaps, while Dillard averaged allowing a pressure every seven pass-pro snaps.

Over the course of the year, Mailata demonstrated steady improvement as he was a top-15 graded tackle via Pro Football Focus from week 11 and on.

He now enters year four as the presumptive starter over Dillard as the blindside tackle for Jalen Hurts. Mailata is scheduled to hit free agency in 2022.

Mailata showed some real promise as a long-term solution at left tackle last season. At 6’8″ 346 lbs., he is absolutely enormous but also has the feet and athleticism to complement his ridiculous frame.

At times, he plays with a mean streak and other-worldly strength:

For someone so tall, he shows a nice bend in his hips to get under d-linemen and wash them down in the run game:

Because of his size, Mailata showed an ability to neutralize power rushers as he has a natural feel to anchor down when he gets his hands on D-linemen in pass protection.

There are still parts of Mailata’s game that are relatively raw. Even though he was mostly successful against stout rushers, there were points where he really struggled against speed rushers. In his second career start in a week four matchup against Pittsburgh, Mailata relinquished two sacks to Bud Dupree who won a number of reps against the inexperienced tackle.

Generally, I loved what I saw from Mailata in the run game. Left tackles traditionally don’t make their money in the run game but Mailata consistently created vertical and horizontal movement and showed a capability to climb to the second level and even pull effectively on pin/pull and tackle wrap concepts. Having said that, unsurprisingly, he has a tendency to stand up and lunge in run game:

The Eagles may be saying Dillard and Mailata are entering camp in a competition for the left tackle spot but if Mailata continues his current trajectory, he shouldn’t have much to worry about. He’s proven much more than Dillard up to this point and has earned the right to start at the beginning of this season.

Despite being drafted a year before Dillard, Mailata just turned 24 years old in May while Dillard turns 26 in October.

Mailata will be entering just his 4th year of playing organized football and has showed considerable promise as a bookend tackle for the future. He’s young, has plenty of room to grow, and has a frame that offensive line coaches dream of. The retention of offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is fantastic news for Mailata – Stoutland has had a lot of success with low end draft picks in the past and Mailata shouldn’t be any different.

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