By Mary Cunnigham
So, who exactly is the rugby player the Eagles took at No. 233 in last week’s NFL draft?
When you’re the Super Bowl champion you can take a few chances. And this is a big one.
Jordan Mailata, a 6-8, 346-pound Samoan, has been playing professional rugby in Australia with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Mailata looks huge on the rugby pitch, rolling over one, two, three or more smaller men.
But his American football experience is zero. He feels the stop-start nature of the sport could play to his strengths:
“Rugby’s such a get-up, get-down game, and playing that for 80 minutes is a lot for a 310-pound guy,” he told NFL.com.
Nate Ebner, an American rugby player until his junior year of college, made the transition and became a Patriots special teams contributor. But Ebner is a different kind of player, weighing 100 pounds less.
The Eagles were high enough on Mailata to trade up to get him.
“With this guy, we don’t know his floor, and we don’t know his ceiling,” big boss Howie Roseman told Sports Illustrated. “With this guy, we’re molding a piece of clay.”