21-year-old Jordan Mailata has never played a down of football. Not one.
Yet that’s not stopping a handful of NFL teams from wanting to draft him.
Mailata, who currently plays in the Australian National Rugby League, is visiting with five NFL teams this week ahead of the NFL Draft later this month. He met with the Washington Redskins on Monday, and will visit the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers throughout the rest of the week.
“I’m quite surprised at how much interest I’ve sparked up in the last couple of months,” Mailata said in an interview with the NFL Network on Monday. “Being from out of the sport and not really knowing much about it, I’m pretty privileged and honored to receive invites to the clubs. Cheerios to them.”
Jordan Mailata is a 6’8” Australian rugby player who has never played a single down of football. He’s visiting five NFL teams this week who could turn him into an OL.#UpToTheMinute @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/lQpJT5RbUP
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) April 10, 2018
Mailata first gained NFL scouts’ attention after a workout in Tampa, Florida, at the end of March, where he ran workouts as an offensive tackle. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.12 seconds — which would have been the seventh best at that position at the NFL Combine — and ran a short shuttle time of 4.67 seconds — which would have put him in the top-10. He also knocked out 22 reps on the bench press.
The adjustment to football hasn’t been easy for the 6-foot-8, 346-pound rugby player, but it’s been an enjoyable one, he said. And getting to run through the drills at the workout, he said, really showed him what it takes to make it in the NFL.
“I went there not really understanding the level of athleticism and skill the guys up front at the line of scrimmage had,” Mailata told NFL.com. “But now having been put through the many drills and testing, it certainly opened my eyes to how good the NFL athlete is. I am looking forward to the challenge and feel confident I can succeed, but I now have a lot of hard work in front of me before I can start thinking of wearing an NFL jersey.”
Mailata played last season for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL, who finished with a 9-15 record.
And while he may not hear his name called on draft day — and is rather more likely to get a call after as a undrafted free agent — Mailata is simply excited for the extra challenge to make it in the NFL.
“I think it’s more just to just challenge myself,” Mailata said. “Being only 21 now, I’m still young and i want to make a name for myself and see what I can do. Why not challenge myself and see what happens?”
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