Despite never having played American football, Mailata's huge 203cm, 155kg frame was intriguing enough for the Eagles to use their seventh round pick on (233rd overall).
A couple of picks later defensive end Josh Sweat heard his name called with the No. 130 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. Because rugby was his love, New England allowed him to take a leave of absence to play on the U.S. Rugby Sevens team that finished ninth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Mailata ran a 5.12-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, which would have ranked eighth among offensive linemen at the combine. The slot corner role is most open-for-business in Philadelphia following the departure of Patrick Robinson and while the Eagles have a plethora of young corners on the roster, none of them have spent much time inside.
Philadelphia signed Canadian rugby player Adam Zaruba to a three-year contract in 2017 and converted him to a tight end.
Mailata shared his draft selection on his Instagram, along with a message of thanks to the Eagles. He was enormous: "six-foot-eight and 166 kilos", Maguire wrote for Players Voice.
Here's what Mailata looks like on the rugby pitch.
"He had an incredible will to improve". And that is what makes the second reason that much better. "And then he went out and did it".
The reason Mailata decided to make the jump from rugby to football is because, apparently, he was too big for his native sport. "The size, speed and talent is there for him to succeed as a very good combo tight end if he works and plays with a little more urgency".
Aerobically it was tough to match everyone else. Mailata put up 22 reps on the bench press.
"In that week of the workouts, I was fascinated by the sport. Why not give it a try?" he said on NFL Network after being selected. "I can't believe it", Mailata told News Corp.
This is the key because no matter what physical skills you have - and Hayne for example had many - if you can not learn the complexities of the game, you will not succeed. "Instinctively, I craved that training".
Interestingly, Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas pointed to Sweat's explosion off the ball as a main strength. "The fans here are very passionate and very outspoken here, and hopefully I can earn their respect".
"I'll never forget this day for the rest of my life", Mailata said.
"It's insane to think about where I was previous year and where I am now ..."