You couldn’t have asked for a better performance out of Jordan Mailata on Sunday night against the 49ers.
Taking over for the injured Jason Peters, Mailata made his first start in the NFL and had a really impressive debut. The former rugby star has never suited up and started in a meaningful football game in his life until Sunday, so expectations weren’t too high. Most Eagles fans were just hoping he didn’t get embarrassed by San Fran’s solid pass rushers.
He finished the game with zero sacks allowed, zero QB hits allowed and he gave up just one QB hurry. Pro Football Focus gave him a 75.2 pass blacking grade on the night. For reference, Lane Johnson has a 76.4 pass blocking grade this season.
Mailata wasn’t perfect, he committed a bone headed false start penalty on third and one, but overall there’s not much to complain about. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland deserves a lot of credit for getting Mailata ready. Molding a guy who’s never played football before into a solid starting left tackle is damn near impossible, but Mailata has all the physical traits needed, and Stoutland has done a fine job coaching him up on the mental side of things.
With Peters out for several weeks nursing a toe injury, Mailata will get more opportunities to show what he’s got in the coming games. If he can consistently play at the level he displayed Sunday night throughout the next few weeks, there’s no question Mailata should remain the starting left tackle for the rest of the season.
Like I said earlier, this guy has every physical trait you could want in a left tackle. The size, the athleticism, it’s all there. Allowing Mailata to start the rest of the year could really help refine some of the areas he’s raw in, like his foot work on running plays and letting defenders into his chest on pass protection. The mental side of playing left tackle.
Peters is obviously not in the long-term plans for this team, so why not find out what you have with this 6-foot-8 freak of nature? If he plays well enough, last year’s first round pick Andre Dillard may have to fight for his spot back during training camp next year.
Peters has also struggled a lot this season, posting a PFF grade of 64.6 and allowing three sacks in three games. So if Mailata plays well in Peters’ absence, there’s no justifying putting JP back in the starting lineup.
If Mailata starts struggling and becomes a liability out there, then starting Peters when he’s available is the right choice. But I have a feeling Mailata is going to play well enough to earn that starting spot for the rest of the season.