Philadelphia Eagles: The AAF wants Jordan Mailata

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With a serious need for on-field development, should the Philadelphia Eagles take the AAF up on their offer and get Jordan Mailata some extra playing time?

Jordan Mailata may be the most interesting prospect in the entire NFL.

Standing 6-foot-8, 346 pounds, Mailata is among the tallest and heaviest players in the league, yet he somehow has a body composition of a tight end. While his football experience was non-existent when the Philadelphia Eagles traded up in the seventh round to select the 21-year-old Australian, if Mailata can get in enough reps and learn the ins and outs of the left tackle position, he has All-Pro upside based on physical dimensions alone.

However, that has and will continue to be the problem.

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Because of the league’s current collective bargaining agreement, teams really don’t have a lot of time to give bottom of the roster players practice reps during the season, leaving a guy like Mailata very few opportunities to take live snaps outside of the summer and four preseason games.

With enough seasoning, it’s conceivable that Mailata’s football mind could match his physical prowess and deliver onto the football world an absolute problem at left tackle, but how will he ever get enough practice to effectively swap wits with players who have been living and breathing football since they were six years old?

The Alliance of American Football would like to be the solution.

While talking to Commercial Appeal‘s Jason Munz, San Antonio Commanders GM Daryl Johnston specifically cited Mailata as the type of player the AAF would love to work with and give a chance to develop, a sentiment the league’s affiliate teams, the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia Eagles agreed with when talking to the league during the AAF’s training camp.

While NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement doesn’t have much to say on the prospects of a team lending a player to another league like the NBA does with their G-League, or the MLB teams do with their farm systems, as the AAF didn’t exist when the current roles were written, the idea is incredibly enticing, to say the least.

If Mailata were able to play left tackle for 10 straight weeks against real players snap after snap, even ones who are a tier below NFL-caliber, it would without a doubt be hugely beneficial for his development as a football player, and help to smooth out his transition from oversized rugby star to offensive tackle.

Expanding that idea out to its natural conclusion, if an AAF-NFL connection were to be established, teams could conceivably select more developmental players with high upsides in the draft with much less fear in the hopes of transforming their potential and measurables into legitimate players.

I mean could you imagine a player like Braxton Miller, a member of the Eagles practice squad last season, being given an expansive opportunity to play wide receiver for 10 full games? After staring at Ohio State as one of the school’s most decorated quarterbacks, his athleticism could eventually make him a do-it-all offensive weapon.

However, the problem has been and will continue to be his lack of opportunity.

Unlike in basketball, where anyone can sit back and shoot hoops all day, a player really can’t get better at wide receiver/running by repetition alone. To truly understand how to read a defense, breeze past cornerbacks, and matchup against man vs. zone, a player needs to take in-games snaps, which up until recently was only available to adult players in either the NFL, Canada, or the fringy football leagues that pop up and disappear every few years.

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If the NFL and AAF or even the NFL and XFL can forge some sort of two-way street that allows bottom-of-the-roster and/or practice squad players to get snaps in the spring, it would only make both leagues better, and allow players like Jordan Mailata to reach a potential that may have otherwise been squandered in the current system.