To Stash Or Not To Stash

Posted: August 15th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Jordan Mailata is unlike any Eagles player I have ever seen.

Mailata is one of the biggest Eagles of all time. Jon Runyan was also a mountain of a man, but Mailata is different from him because of his athleticism. Mailata is a freak, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word. It would be stretching things a bit too far to say he’s got the footwork of a ballerina, but guys his size are not supposed to move the way he does.

Mailata is also completely raw, more project than prospect. He has played in one football game in his life, and that was last week against Pittsburgh. Mailata needs work, work and more work. He has no business being on the field during an NFL game during the 2018 season.

What do you do with such a player?

The conventional logic is for the Eagles to find a way to put Mailata on injured reserve for the 2018 season. They don’t have to waste a roster spot on him and he can spend the next 17 or so weeks learning football from the classroom, as well as just soaking up the NFL experience. Remember, Mailata is a blank slate. He needs to learn anything and everything about the sport of pro football.

The Eagles already have a reason they can use for injured reserve. From Tim McManus:

Mailata is now a week deep into his first NFL training camp, and he acknowledges his body is “crook” – Australian for “ailing.” His arms are feeling it the most; now that the pads are on and the intensity turned up, he’s using them really for the first time to battle pass-rushers, and it’s taking a toll. A team physical found that he has a Grade 2 PCL tear in his right knee from his rugby days, so he wears a large brace around his massive leg daily to protect from further injury. On the ball of his left foot, there’s a nasty blister the size of a silver dollar from the thousands of kick-steps he has been practicing.

(h/t to Jimmy Bama for that)

The problem with IR is that Mailata can’t practice. He can do all the classroom learning he wants, but he can’t get on the field and work on his game. And that’s what he needs more than anything…practice reps.

The coaching staff would be focused on getting their linemen ready for Sunday’s game. Developing Mailata would be second to that and not even a close second. There just isn’t enough time for coaches to think much about projects during the season. Still, every practice rep would have value.

Mailata has the physical gifts to be a good starting offensive linemen. The only way for him to go from raw project to playable prospect is experience. He must get on the field as much as possible.

In a fantasy world, the Eagles would put Mailata on the practice squad. That would save them a roster spot and allow him to practice. I just don’t think they can take that risk. 31 other teams studied his performance from last week. They saw the potential. If the Eagles were to cut Mailata, there would be a lot of teams filing a waiver claim to get his rights.

The Eagles need to go IR or active roster if they want to play it safe.

Could you really keep a player who you know can’t get on the field? Sure. There are going to be inactive players every week, no matter what. Mailata could be one of those inactive guys.

The Eagles would not consider keeping Mailata on the active roster if he wasn’t a special prospect. Roster spots are precious. You aren’t going to use a spot on a player who can’t contribute this year without special circumstances.

None of this is a surprise to the Eagles. They scouted Mailata and wanted to draft him. It isn’t like Howie Roseman lost a bet to some other GM and had to pick the Rugby Dude. They had a plan for how to develop him.

I’d love to share some PBRs with Howie and Jeff Stoutland to see if they think Mailata is ahead of schedule, behind or about where they expected. I don’t think they’ll say anything too revealing to the media.

It may seem like a daunting task to try to develop such a raw player. The Eagles did turn Taylor Hart into an OL. The Steelers turned Alejandro Villanueva from a former WR/TE/DL into a LT. Jason Peters was a blocking TE in college and is now a potential Hall of Fame LT.

If you have a player with the right amount of talent and a good work ethic, a good coach can develop that player. It also helps if both of them are completely on board. Mailata genuinely seems to want this to work. Stoutland seems excited by the challenge of trying to develop him.

Another key is for the organization to have a plan so that the coach and player can succeed. You can bet the Eagles have a plan for how to turn the Rugby Dude into a good NFL player. We’ll have to wait and see if it works.

I expect Mailata to be better against the Patriots than he was last week. Every bit of experience should help him to grow, to take another step forward. Still, his development is a marathon and not a sprint. Mailata just turned 21 a month ago.

If everyone involved handles this right, Mailata could have one hell of an NFL career and the Eagles could have one hell of an offensive lineman.

We’ve got three more games to go this summer before the Eagles have to decide what to do with Mailata for 2018. My money is on him making the active roster.


One Comment on “To Stash Or Not To Stash”

  1. 1 大喜 said at 7:19 AM on August 15th, 2018: