Missouri Western safety Jonathan Owens saw his NFL dream become a reality Sunday as he signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals as a priority free agent, an hour after the NFL draft wrapped up.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” Owens told News-Press Now. “My heart was beating just walking out realizing, ‘I’m on an NFL team.’ I can’t even describe the feeling when I got off the phone with Arizona and told them I accepted the deal.”
Owens stole the show at his pro day on March 23 at Griffon Indoor Sports Complex on the campus of Western, in St. Joseph, Mo., running a 4.44 40-yard dash with a 43-inch vertical jump, 11-foot broad jump and 18 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press.
Owens, a CBC graduate out of St. Louis, said the contract is a three-year deal.
Eagles pick a true rookie • The Philadelphia Eagles made a bold move with their final pick in the draft, taking a player who has never played football.
But Jordan Mailata brings a compelling presence to the Super Bowl champions: Seen as an offensive tackle, he stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 346 pounds — very little of which is body fat — and 35½-inch arms. A native of Australia, he has spent the last four months learning the game and how to block at the IMG training facility in Florida. The Eagles made a trade with the New England Patriots to move up 17 spots to take him with the 233rd pick in the seventh round. The Eagles also send a 2019 seventh-round pick to the Patriots.
Stardom is nothing new for the 20-year-old Mailata, who stood out during his time with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Last fall, he turned his attention to American football. “It’s a fun sport, you know? Why not give it a try?” he said in an NFL Network interview.
This isn’t the first time the Eagles have dipped into the game of rubgy for a player. Last year, they signed Adam Zaruba, a tight end who spent the season on the practice squad.
Mailata may be something of a gamble, but it’s one that worked out for the Patriots, who drafted Nate Ebner out of Ohio State with the 197th overall pick in 2012. Ebner had never played football in high school, but walked on with the Buckeyes. 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.
Bears fill in the holes • The Bears made their final four picks of the NFL draft Saturday and then began to fill out the rest of their roster with undrafted free agents.
Notre Dame defensive end Andrew Trumbetti and linebacker Nyles Morgan are among the players who reportedly either will sign an undrafted free-agent contract or try out with the team.
The Bears will release a list of the players before their rookie mini-camp May 11-13.