Stop me if you’ve heard this before...a player who isn’t known to be an offensive tackle is converted into such with the help of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Yes, that would be the story of Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva who played tight end in college, was converted to defensive tackle and eventually caught on with the Steelers as an offensive tackle — a position he know owns as a full-time starter.
While not quite the same story, the Steelers were on hand to check out Jordan Mailata’s pro day in Tampa, FL last week.
Who is Jordan Mailata? A rugby player who is trying to get a spot on an offseason roster as an offensive tackle.
“Mailata, a 20-year-old of Samoan origin who played professional rugby for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, got the chance to show representatives from all 32 teams how he is faring in his conversion to offensive tackle for the NFL.” According to the NFL’s official website.
“Mailata measured just shy of 6-foot-8 and weighed 346 pounds. His arms measured a massive 35.5 inches. He was timed at 5.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which would have been good for seventh among tackle participants at the NFL Combine in February. He also excelled in the short shuttle with a time (4.67 seconds) that would have been among the top 10 at his position. Mailata put up 22 reps on the bench press.
”I felt today went well,” Mailata said after his workout. “This was my first chance to go through the positional drills in front of teams and I hope they got a chance to see the progress I have made as I try to master the position.”
There is something to be said about athleticism and pure toughness, both prerequisites to play the sport of rugby at a high level. Mailata will have a lot to prove from a technical standpoint, but will likely get a chance to show what he can do this summer for an NFL team.
While there is no guarantee he gets a chance, I wouldn’t be stunned if the Steelers are a team interested in his services. Mike Munchak has worked wonders with projects like Mailata, and could likely do it again.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft.