PHILADELPHIA - Maybe it's not Floyd Mayweather against Logan Paul from a hype standpoint but the fight of the summer - locally at least - is set for Philadelphia.
Jeff Stoutland officially kicked off what's expected to be the Eagles' most high-profile, training camp competition: Jordan Mailata vs. Andre Dillard for the starting left tackle job.
“There is definitely one," the Eagles' veteran OL coach said Wednesday when asked about the competition between the Aussie project turned prospect and the former first-round pick.
"I think anytime there is competition like that, and it is that close, it brings the best out of both players. Both players have to be on every day, all day because it is competition."
And the winner will be about production not pedigree, according to Stoutland.
"Whoever is the most productive, whoever does the best, who has the best value going into the season will be the starter,” he insisted.
That declaration, however, is not law.
While Stoutland will have tremendous sway in the judging, he admitted that his new boss - head coach Nick Sirianni - will be where the buck stops, and even that status could be affected by a lobbying general manager in Howie Roseman who traded up for Dillard in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft.
"As the position coach, I’m going to obviously have input on that, but I think ultimately the head coach will be the one who will approve or disapprove," Stoutland said. "He’ll make that final decision along with the input I provide him."
For now, though, the meritocracy talk remains on display.
During the three OTAs open to the media this spring, Mailata was playing with the first-team after finishing the disappointing 2020 campaign as the starter due to historic attrition which started way back in August when Dillard tore his biceps derailing a plan which had the former Washington State star stepping in to replace veteran Jason Peters.
Stoutland said neither is ahead of the other right now and Mailata previously confirmed himself that his status at the top of the depth chart during media availability was just luck of the draw of those particular days.
"I still have to earn my place," Mailata said. "Like I said when I finished off last year, the last press conference, I’m still trying to prove to myself that I am a dominant left tackle in this league and not a rugby player anymore but in order for me to do that I have to keep progressing and challenging myself every day."
The tale of the tape favors Dillard when it comes to technique and fundamentals and Mailata when it comes to size and strength.
The goal moving forward is for Dillard to get stronger so he can anchor against top-tier bull-rushers while Mailata will be asked to become more consistent with his footwork so the flashes tied to his size, strength, and athleticism become more sustained.
"I'm a lot stronger than before I got hurt, I'll tell you that," Dillard told SI.com's Eagle Maven.
Stoutland offered up his own self-assuredness.
"I know what I have to do to help Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard look just like the other guys they are playing next to," Stoutalnd said, alluding to his more proven commodities of Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson.
"... I expect that (LT) player to fit right in with the rest of those players, be accountable to all of the things that are going on, because when you watch the synchronization, you watch how synchronized the group is, I want the player to be just like that."
The key is turning that vision into demonstrable performance.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.