Over the next few weeks of training camp, as the Eagles try to decide who to keep on their 53-man roster, we'll be catching up weekly with former Australian rugby player and Eagles' seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata to track his progress as he tries to defy the odds and make the Eagles' roster less than a year after starting his quest to play American football.
Most of the Eagles' rookies don't have a future in music. When they got in front of their teammates to perform in the annual rookie talent show, they sang off key, forgot the words and some even got booed off the stage.
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Not Jordan Mailata.
In fact, the 21-year-old rookie offensive tackle is more at home with a guitar in his hand than he is trying to pancake a defensive lineman. That showed during his performance of Sam Smith's "I'm Not the Only One" during the running show.
It's just pretty funny that while most of his fellow rookies feel more comfortable on the football field than they do performing a song, it's the exact opposite for Mailata.
"The coach has been saying to me since I got here, ‘these guys have been playing since they were 5 years old,'" Mailata said. "Well, I've been playing music since I was 5. For me, that's normal. The coach says, ‘you can memorize all the songs, but you can't memorize all the plays.' Like I said, I've been doing this my whole life."
Mailata plays the guitar, drums, piano, ukulele and bass guitar. We found video evidence of a young (and skinny) Mailata showing off the pipes in this video from 2012.
He's one of five siblings, four boys and an oldest sister - and they're all musically talented. Mailata says everyone tells him they should start a family band.
"You could do a Jackson 5 thing … the Mailata 5," I suggest.
"The Mailata 5, that's original as hell," he shot back, before agreeing that if it ever happens, I'll get credit. "We've been playing since we were young. We can all play instruments. The Mailata 5 isn't too bad of an option."
But, for now, the former rugby player is focused on trying to make a career out of playing a sport he began to learn less than a year ago. This really could have gone one of two ways; but thanks to being coachable, Mailata has already shown a ton of improvement.
Now, he still has a long way to go, but we're seeing flashes. On one running play near the goal line yesterday, Mailata had a lead block on a touchdown run from Josh Adams. Parts of run blocking are easier for Mailata, but he admitted other parts are pretty hard. He's been up and down during OL-DL 1-on-1s, as you'd imagine.
We're now less than a week away from Mailata's first football game. Not his first NFL game … his first football game. When asked if he's ready for that, Mailata said to check back with him later. As the game gets closer, he wants to talk to the coaches more about how the O-line should work as a unit. After a few months in football, Mailata realizes how everything he does affects the entire front five.
Each week we're going to ask Mailata to pick a goal for the following week. Last week, he said he wanted to be able to read defensive ends better. He said he's "definitely" improved in that area, but still needs to get better. He said there are so many different looks a defensive end can give and noted they're really good at disguising them.
His goal for next week
"Next week, my hands. My punching hands. I tried to work on it this week as well. But by next week, I want to be able to properly use my hands the best way I can."