The Houston Texans have holes to fill in the draft. However, that does not mean they should hunt for hidden gems.
Jordan Mailata (pronounced My-Uh-Lotta) has never played an American football snap. However, he needs to be on the Houston Texans draft board.
The Samoan played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the Australian National Rugby League. He is a massive human being by any standards. He is 6’8″, 345 pounds, and can run a 5.00 40 yard dash. Mailata does not have the typical body type of a person weighing 345 pounds. He is lean and mean. Just take a look at his rugby tape.
Mailata came over to the US in January to begin training for the draft. He’s been working Aden Durde who pioneered the draft rise of receiver Moritz Boehringer in 2016. However, Mailata has been working on developing into an offensive tackle.
If Mailata conversion from rugby to American football is successful, he’ll be one of the most athletic tackles in the league. He has reportedly run a 40 in 4.9 seconds. His pro day was slower than that but man can he move. He also has great length with 36-inch arms and 11-inch hands.
Mailata’s most impressive stat is his 4.67 short shuttle. This stat is extremely important for an offensive lineman. They need to be able to move laterally to counterattack the various moves of defenders. This time would’ve ranked in the top ten at the combine.
Why the team needs to target Mailata
The Houston Texans have eight picks. That’s a lot of draft capital, even if they don’t have a first or a second round pick. Assuming they don’t make a trade, they’ll have four picks in the last two rounds. Is there a better way to spend those than on a high upside guy? I don’t think so.
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Mailata, being the athletic freak that he is, is a rare prospect. At 21 years old, if he can successfully learn the sport, he could be a good player. But, it’s going to take time. Whichever team drafts him will have to show patience.
However, the league has made this more possible than ever. The league has established the International Player Pathway (IPP) last year. It started with just the NFC South, but the league has since expanded it to everyone. The IPP essentially allows teams to have an 11th practice squad member if the player is from a different country.
The IPP opens a door for teams to allow athletically gifted players learn the game. It lets teams develop these players without sacrificing much. The Houston Texans need to use the IPP to develop Mailata.
Using one of the late picks on a diamond in the rough like Mailata will be worth it. Using the IPP will help with that. After the offensive line woes last year, the team should be exploring every avenue to ensure that will never happen again.
Mailata may not pan out, but if he does, LOOK OUT!