College football finds itself in a perilous position on the eve of the 2020 season.
The Philadelphia Eagles look like they’ll be starting Aussie offensive lineman, Jordan Mailata, in their preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Even though we won’t know what their decision will be until game time; Mailata starting looks likely with starting right tackle Lane Johnson out with a calf injury.
The Eagles’ started the hulking linemen (6ft 8 and 157 kilos) at right tackle in their preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
It’s clear that the Eagles want to get a read on how far he’s come. Last week Mailata played 53/57 snaps in their game against the Titans.
But this week he’ll have his hands full with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive line. The Jaguars’ defence was ranked number six last year, and number one in 2017 according to football outsiders.
Although Mailata won’t be up against the full force of the Jags’ defensive front, he’ll be asked more questions than he was against the Titans.
Mailata, a former South Sydney Rabbitohs junior, has shown immense signs of improvement since being drafted by the Eagles (pick #233 of the 2018 draft) without ever playing a snap of American football. Last week was his best performance yet. Though despite being physically dominant, he still showed his rawness with some mental errors.
Eagles head coach, Doug Pederson, said during a press conference at training camp on August 10 that Mailata “did some good things….we were pleased with his performance” but added that “it wasn’t perfect, there were one or two there, mental errors.”
It’s clear he’s making strides during training camp. This week during the Eagles’ practice he was taking reps with the first team offense in drills, and in the offensive lineman/defensive linemen one on ones he was able to hold his own against defensive end Brandon Graham a former first round draft pick (Pick #13 in the 2010 draft).
His biggest hurdle is now getting his football IQ up to speed as he may be called upon to protect Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz (who’s currently worth USD $25.7 million per year) during the regular season.
Wentz, despite being an MVP-level quarterback in 2017 has been unable to rediscover his best form after suffering season-ending injuries in back-to-back seasons.
It’s crucial that Jordan Mailata performs at his best in the next three preseason games to solidify his spot as Lane Johnson’s backup and a show the Eagles’ coaching staff that he can be trusted to protect the team’s most valuable asset.
The Eagles play the Jaguars at 9am AEST on Friday the 16th of August.