April 19, 2021
During the offseason, we'll be taking a look at a handful of players who are either new to the Philadelphia Eagles, or are already with the team but we perhaps don't know a lot about them just yet. Today we'll take a look at Jordan Mailata.
Previous "Eagles player review" breakdowns
You all know Jordan Mailata's story already. A former Australian rugby player, Mailata never played a down of organized American football in his life until he was, you know, in the NFL. The Eagles selected him in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and for the first two years of his career, Mailata's NFL action was limited to training camp and preseason games.
In 2020, he finally got a chance to play in some real games, and he ended up appearing in 13 of them, 10 of which were starts, for a total of 733 snaps. His snap tally in each game:
|17||Football Team||0 (inactive)|
|TOTAL||13 games, 10 starts||733|
• Football Team: Mailata entered late in the game in relief of Jack Driscoll at RT, a position he previously noted he was less comfortable playing. His footwork on his kick slide looked fine from the right side. He held his own.
• 49ers: First ever start, and a surprisingly good performance. He did have one costly false start, and one pressure allowed, by my count, but was otherwise good in pass pro.
• Steelers: Second career start. Bud Dupree gave him trouble. Mailata got his first taste of a pass rusher who can mix speed rushes and speed-to-power rushes. Gave up two sacks. One was on a speed rush. The other was a speed-to-power rush that forced Wentz to escape the pocket, and eventually take a sack by another defender.
• Ravens: Solid game, wasn’t obviously beaten for any sacks. Had some nice aggressive “mean streak” moments.
• Giants: Beaten a few times in pass pro, once for a sack. Shaky game, though he did do a nice job on Leonard Williams when matched up against him.
• Cowboys: Started at RT, gave up a bad sack on an inside move by DeMarcus Lawrence on the first dropback of the game. I can imagine the coaching staff collectively thinking, "Uh oh." But he regrouped, and settled in. Lawrence got him again on another inside move later, leading to a QB hit, but he was otherwise steady, and he made a bunch of good blocks in the run game.
• Browns: Didn’t start. Came in at RT after Lane Johnson and Jack Driscoll both went down. Moved to LT after Peters went down. Only played 26 snaps. Nearly gave up a sack-fumble to Adrian Clayborn, and then later did give up a sack-fumble to him.
• Seahawks: Started at LT, with Peters starting at LG, a noteworthy development. At that point the LT job was Mailata's. So-so performance. He had an obvious holding penalty, and a sack allowed.
• Packers: Good game. Saw a lot of Preston Smith, and he frustrated Packers edge rushers all night. Also had some nice blocks in the run game.
• Saints: Gave up a big hit on Hurts on an incompletion. Otherwise, he was good in pass pro, and seemed interested in being a bully in the run game.
• Cardinals: His nastiness was turned up a notch, an indication that his confidence and/or comfort level was building. He had one QB hit allowed, but was otherwise very good in this game, and threw some guys around.
• Cowboys: Left early with a head injury as a result of a Jaylon Smith cheap shot, which also caused him to miss the team's Week 17 tankathon finale. Randy Gregory got him with an inside move after he overset, and the result was a sack-fumble, but Mailata was at least able to jump on the ball. Otherwise, this was a solid finish to the season, and he once again made a bunch of good, physical blocks in the run game.
We put together a video breakdown of Mailata's game on Twitter. Go check that out below, and we'll expand on those observations thereafter.
Eagles player review: Jordan Mailata edition. Article✍️ and thread 🧵https://t.co/Y10eQlZTRY— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) April 19, 2021
At a listed height and weight of 6'8, 346, Mailata was usually the biggest human being on the field. As the season progressed, he began to realize that fact and decided to start bullying defenders when opportunities were there.
Mailata's pure country strength was obvious on tape, and it was fun watching him throw guys to the ground more and more as his confidence grew throughout the season.
So, he's big ✔ and strong ✔. You already knew that, but as you can see in the Twitter thread above, he uses his size. That's not true of every big football player. Anyway, being big and strong is a nice start if you're a professional offensive lineman. #Analysis.
By our count, Mailata gave up seven sacks in 2020. That led all Eagles offensive linemen. However, he also played the most pass blocking snaps on the team among the offensive tackles:
|Eagles OTs||*Pass pro snaps||*Sacks allowed||Pass pro snaps per sack|
*Pass blocking snaps via ProFootballFocus, sacks-allowed tally via PhillyVoice.
For the sake of comparison, Andre Dillard gave up 6.5 sacks in 2019 on just 183 pass blocking snaps, or one sack for every 28.2 pass blocking snaps.
While Dillard's biggest flaw was his ability to anchor against power, Mailata struggled more with speed rushers. Mailata is athletic for a man his size, but he is not exactly what NFL scouts would call "twitchy," which I'll attempt to define as players who have quick, explosive muscle reactions on the fly. Obviously, a man of Mailata's size is going to be more aircraft carrier than Jet Ski. When speed rushers are able to get a step on him, he had difficulty recovering.
As far as anchoring goes, Mailata didn't often get put on roller skates. Early in the season, the Steelers' Bud Dupree executed an impressive speed-to-power rush that knocked Mailata back into Carson Wentz, but Mailata seemingly made corrections, and did not have a repeat as bad as that play again the rest of the season.
Given the choice of being flawed against power rushers and speed rushers, I'll take struggles with speed rushers all day. If you can't anchor, it is a fatal flaw. Opposing rushers know they can just bull rush those guys into the quarterback, and when pass protectors start overcompensating to stonewall power, their technique and balance can become compromised, and they get beaten in an assortment of ways, like Dillard did in 2019.
Mailata's ability to anchor against power goes beyond just being a 350-pound dude who is hard to move. He also has 35 1/2" arms, and he was skilled in using them. Linemen that tried straight-arm rushes (a popular trend of late in the NFL) were met with Mailata's longer arms that kept rushers at bay.
It became clear as the season progressed that Mailata enjoyed dominating in the run game. He has a nice initial jolt at the line of scrimmage, and he easily washed interior defenders down the line when called upon to do that. He was also effective as a puller, either across the formation or to the outside.
The one true negative as a run blocker was his penchant for getting his body weight out in front of him, or moving forward out of control. Defenders were sometimes able to take advantage of his momentum, and pull Mailata by them. The result would be some ugly looking whiffs on film.
And then if we're nitpicking, another thing I noticed is that he doesn't attempt to disguise where he's going pre-snap. This is true both in the run game and in pass protection. If he’s blocking inside, his head is facing inside, pre-snap. If he’s blocking the edge rusher, he’s looking right at him. I wonder what other tendencies he could be giving away.
Jordan Mailata is a better football player right now than Andre Dillard. He's also a year and a half younger, and presumably has more upside given that his first non-exhibition football game ever occurred fewer than eight months ago.
There is no good argument for Dillard to be running with the starters ahead of Mailata whenever the team reports for its first mandatory camp. There is the potential for Dillard to find himself atop the depth chart, however, simply because he is a recent first-round pick that the team spent substantial resources on.
The expectation here is that Mailata and Dillard will battle it out during training camp for the starting job in 2021, and that Mailata should have a leg up, since his flaws are more correctable than Dillard's.
Beyond the Mailata-Dillard starting LT competition, there's also the matter of what the Eagles should do if they find themselves in a situation in which they're on the clock during the 2021 NFL Draft, and Oregon OT Penei Sewell is (a) the top player on their board, and (b) still available.
While Mailata made promising strides in 2020 (and as an added bonus he finished strongly), I don't think he showed so much that the team should pass on a player at a premium position if he is their top-rated available prospect. Mailata proved in 2020 that he is a legitimate NFL starter, but he still has a ways to go before he can be considered a top-tier guy. He also had two seasons in which he didn't even play in real games cut short by back injuries, which should be a legitimate concern.
If Mailata improves once again in 2021, it should be noted that he is in a contract year, and good, young left tackles tend to make a lot of money on the open market. If his regresses, well, obviously, that's worse. In other words, should Sewell be available, it wouldn't be the worst idea to just pick him if the wide receivers and cornerbacks of interest are already gone.
Ultimately, the bet here is that Mailata is the Eagles' starting LT in 2021.
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