A former New York Jets offensive tackle is switching careers.
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A Really Cool Journey
Ijalana originally entered the NFL as the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.
After being selected by the Indianapolis Colts he played in four games and didn’t start in any of those contests during his rookie season. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL and was placed on injured reserve.
Heading into the next season Ijalana was medically cleared, but once again tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entire 2012 season as well.
Ultimately he shook free of the Colts organization and was claimed off of waivers by the Jets in 2013. For the next three years, he was cryogenically frozen on the bench serving in a reserve role.
Although in 2016 he finally got to show why he was so highly thought of coming out of Villanova. Ijalana played in all 16 games and started in 13 of those contests for the Jets.
All of his snaps came at both of the tackle spots and he had a career year according to the PFF advanced analytics:
- 63.8 overall grade
- 67.7 pass block grade
- 56.5 run block grade
After that initial pop, Ijalana served the rest of his career as a reserve. He spent the majority of his time in the pros with the Jets from 2013 through 2018.
The 32-year-old spent his last season in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 but didn’t see the field.
Now he will be transitioning from the playing field to the scouting department.
Someone to Root For
Ijalana was described as a “star” coming out of Villanova via NFL dot com’s combine profile.
The 6-foot-4, 322-pound behemoth was known as an intense competitor on the field that was heralded for his “mean streak” and his affinity for fighting to the whistle.
Now he’ll have to take that same mentality from the gridiron to the scouting department.
There is a strong relationship between the Jets and the Eagles organization. Current general manager Joe Douglas spent four years there highlighted by the first and only Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
The hire by the Eagles is getting praised on the Twitter streets.
People seem to like NFL organizations hiring former players as scouts because they bring something you can’t teach to the table. There is no substitution for being an athlete, playing the game in college, getting drafted, and then playing at the highest level.
That experience will be invaluable as Ijalana transitions into his new career.
He is a New Jersey guy through and through. Ijalana was born in New Brunswick, went to high school in Mount Holly, and got to play for over six years for his hometown team.
This will be an easy story for Jets fans to root for not only this offseason, but moving forward.