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Browns hosting Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata for pre-draft visit

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Teams are evaluating the 21-year-old Samoan rugby player as a potential offensive tackle in the NFL.

The Cleveland Browns are reportedly hosting Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata today, according to NFL Network’s Gil Brandt. Mailata is a 6-foot-8, 345-pounder who is projected to play offensive tackle in the NFL, should he find a home in the league.

Here’s a look at Mailata’s NFL tour stops this week, per Brandt.

The very large Mailata says he has never played a snap of American football. So who is he, and why is he making this transition?

“I think it’s, well to challenge myself,” he said, per NFL Network. “I want to make a name for myself and see what I can do.”

To prepare, Mailata has been training at IMG Academy in the Bradenton, Fla., and recently impressed in a pro day nearby in Tampa Bay, according to NFL.com:

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.

Now, the question becomes how much draft capital a team is wiling to wager that Mailata can successfully make that transition, and then become an effective player in a game he has never played. Chances are it’s going to take at least some time for him to acclimate to the game before being ready to play. However, although offensive tackle is a complex and technically nuanced position, starting out there is significantly simpler than say, attempting to enter the league as a quarterback.

Based strictly on his developmental nature, the highest he would likely be drafted is the fourth round, but that’s merely speculation. Mailata also counts against the Browns’ 30 hosted pre-draft visits, so you have to imagine they are at least considering using one of their nine picks on him.

He presents a potential unique opportunity for new general manager John Dorsey to eventually replace Joe Thomas at a relatively cheap price. But Mailata has a long, long road to travel before that will ever become a reality.

First let’s see where, and if he gets drafted.