Former rugby player Jordan Mailata admits it will be real hard to make Eagles
Arizona Central | 6 days ago

PHILADELPHIA - Jordan Mailata and Matt Pryor weigh a combined 684 pounds and stand more than 13 feet tall.

Yet it will take a lot of doing for Mailata, the Eagles' seventh-round draft pick, and Pryor, their sixth-round pick, to ever see the field side by side.

They are both relatively new to football. Mailata, a former rugby player in Australia, is so new that rookie minicamp last weekend represented his first ever experience as part of a team.

"Before, I had one peanut (of knowledge)," he said. "I have two peanuts now."

"That's the way I'm seeing it," he added. "I think it's the right attitude to approach it, keep me in check. You don't know anything. Even though it's your first day, you still have a long way to go. Still peanuts."

Both Mailata and Pryor represent risks that the Eagles are willing to take to build an offensive line for the future. For now, both are buried behind a deep and veteran offensive line.

But Jason Peters is 36 years old and coming off a torn ACL. Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks have large contracts in the coming seasons, and Stefen Wisniewski is approaching 30.

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The Eagles have a few younger players in Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo, drafted in the fifth and third rounds, respectively, in 2016.

Mailata, who's 6-8, 346 pounds, intrigues the Eagles with his size. They saw the Youtube video where he literally ran over tacklers half his size playing rugby. But Mailata had never touched a football and didn't know anything about the sport until deciding to try it last winter.

That came after he didn't get any full-time offers to play rugby.

"I was getting (rugby) contracts at the time, but they were part-time," Mailata said. "But I wanted the security, which was the full-time contract so I could be able to craft my skill and develop myself as a player and see where my strengths and weaknesses were and work on them.

"In saying that, my agent knew somebody from the NFL as part of this international player pathway program. So, he emailed them the highlights and they were intrigued by them."

Or, as Eagles vice president for player personnel Joe Douglas put it: "Excited about the size and athleticism. I mean, those measurables are pretty rare."

The same holds true for Pryor, who's 6-7, 338 pounds.

He didn't start playing football until his freshman year in high school before going on to Texas Christian University. Even then, football became his sport of choice by accident.

"I didn't really grow up around sports," Pryor said. "I tried Pop Warner. But in California, there's a weight limit, and I was pushing that. One day, I watched my cousin practice. I went with my mom and we're sitting on the sideline, and the coach looks over and ... he threw me a pair of cleats.

"And the rest is history."

Well, not exactly.

Pryor said he came to TCU weighing close to 380 pounds. Gradually, he has shed about 50 pounds, mostly by eating better.

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