Former South Sydney Rabbitohs phenom Jordan Mailata has been selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Draft.
The Super Bowl champions made the Australian the 233rd overall pick on Sunday, hoping the towering 20-year-old can successfully transition from rugby league to American football.
“It’s been an absolute brainstorm of an experience,” Mailata told NFL Draft Live after being selected in the seventh round of the annual intake of new talent.
— ALEXIS PRODUCTIONS (@alexist_20) April 28, 2018
Mailata, who previously suited up for the Rabbitohs in the NRL’s Under 20’s comp, had admitted earlier to NFL.com that he wasn’t expected to be drafted.
PHI trades up and takes Australian rugby player in Round 7, the 233rd overall pick. He's 6-foot-8 and 346 pounds … and has never played a down of football.#Eagles fans, meet OT Jordan Mailata: https://t.co/pf0CSHNkrX pic.twitter.com/uF9bZEq3eb
— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFLDraft) April 28, 2018
But his imposing physical attributes likely convinced the Eagles to take a chance that Mailata, listed as an offensive tackle, could earn a place on their roster.
He’s six feet, eight inches tall (2.03 meters) and 346 pounds (157 kilograms) — and wowed scouts at his pro day demonstration by running the 40-yard dash in 5.12 seconds.
Meet the 6' 8" 250 lbs Australian Rugby player Jordan Mailata who hopes to soon make his NFL dream come true.
— New Orleans Saints Underground (@SaintsUndergrnd) April 26, 2018
Mailata only arrived in the US a few months ago and has never played a game of American football but his freakish size and speed and a fast-track orientation as an offensive lineman at the IMG Academy in Florida was enough to have NFL scouts salivating.
The Eagles, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons invited him to workouts.
Also on Sunday, former Sydney Swans prospect Michael Dickson was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 149th pick.
The Sydney 21-year-old decided to try his luck at American football three years ago, received a scholarship at the University of Texas and quickly became one of US college football’s top punters.
His selection in the fifth round is a stunning result as teams are traditionally reluctant to use their draft picks on punters.
NFL scouts and analysts rated the 191cm tall Dickson as the best punter in the draft class.
Dickson proved his supremacy in December when he won the Ray Guy Award, the top accolade for punters in college football.
As a teenager Dickson’s athleticism and big, accurate kick had been identified by AFL teams and he became a member of the Sydney Swans Academy.