When the Eagles selected Josh Sweat and Jordan Mailata on the final day of the 2018 NFL Draft, they were selecting two raw, talented prospects. Blank canvases that the Eagles could mold into whatever they wanted.
Mailata was a rugby player that had jaw-dropping athleticism for a 6’8 346 pounder. A trait you rarely see outside of the Jason Peters and Lane Johnsons of the world.
The Eagles drafted Jordan Mailata, a 6-foot-8, 346-pound rugby stud from Australia. pic.twitter.com/G1PXGpxJJq
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 28, 2018
Sweat, the former Florida State edge rusher also had buzz around him when selected by the Eagles in the 4th round. Some even considered Sweat the steal of the draft.
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) April 28, 2018
Josh Sweat is a "massive steal" for the Eagles https://t.co/Iu8kjYny1m
— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) April 28, 2018
The Eagles found a potential steal in Florida State pass-rusher Josh Sweat. pic.twitter.com/JEroEwK8JJ
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 1, 2018
Sweat and Mailata had the ups and downs in their rookie seasons that most mid to late round rookies have.
While Mailata showed more promise in extended playing time throughout the preseason, both had eye-popping moments that showed off their potential. They also had their fair share of inconsistent play and injuries.
In a draft class that is deep with both offensive and defensive line talent, if or when the Eagles address the two positions could say a lot about the confidence level the organization has in the development of both players.
Mailata was only on the field for the preseason (placed on IR for the regular season), but the former rugby star made significant strides over the summer.
Receiving the praise of respected football minds like Brian Baldinger and Mike Mayock created a lot of excitement around Mailata’s potential. Baldinger even went as far as saying “Jordan Mailata has improved more than any football player I have ever watched in 4 months.”
For somebody who never played football before getting drafted, he played like he could be the next Jason Peters-type diamond in the rough.
.@Eagles #JordanMailata has improved more than ANY football player I have ever watched in 4 months . He has everything it takes to be a dominant player, except experience. Amazing transformation. #BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/gurmylW6jB
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 24, 2018
This week by week improvement in August earned Mailata a spot on the 53-man roster. A feat that most probably didn’t see coming.
Sweat also looked the part of someone that could become a star. He looks like he could have been built in a lab to play defensive end. 6’5, 251 pounds, crazy length, and receiver level speed.
We have a new leader in the DL 40-yard dash!
— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2018
Sweat’s 40 time was among some of the most athletic pass rushers in the NFL.
Like Mailata, Sweat made the 53-man roster, but the former Seminole actually saw playing time. The rookie edge rusher often struggled with counter moves after an offensive lineman won the initial battle on the line of scrimmage.
All the athleticism was there. And you could see it. The technical side of his game, however, was clearly lacking. For a 4th round pick, a raw prospect like Sweat, that was to be expected. That will need to be a key area of improvement if he wants to be part of the future up front.
There were also some flashes of the potential Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas saw in Sweat when they selected him. A play here against the Minnesota Vikings shows the raw arm power as Sweat simply manhandles Vikings LT Riley Reiff.
Shot 4 – This was another Sidney Jones tackle, but watch Josh Sweat on this play. Only played a handful of snaps, this was the one that he popped off the film the most #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/32TwWeYOLi
— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 9, 2018
That was a 6’6 313-pound man that Sweat tosses to the side as if he weighed 10 pounds.
Both Sweat and Mailata could be huge steals for the Eagles in the 4th and 7th round. They have as much potential as anyone on the roster.
If the Eagles take an offensive lineman or edge rusher early, Sweat and Mailata will still have an opportunity to have roles on the team next year and into the future. The Eagles love to rotate defensive ends. With Michael Bennett and Brandon Graham both over the age of 30, Sweat can still be part of the future rotation even if the front office goes with a DE early in the draft.
The Eagles could hope both prospects pan out while selecting an OT and/or DE early to double down on positions they value over any outside QB.
Or they could potentially wait, take a flier on mid/late round lineman, rely on veterans (Jason Peters, Brandon Graham, and Michael Bennett), and hope these two take significant steps in Year 2.
The two 2018 selections will both have an opportunity in 2019 but when Philadelphia decides to address these two positions could be telling about their belief in the projects of Jordan Mailata and Josh Sweat.
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