With the initial craze of free agency now behind us, it is time to look forward to the 2022 NFL Draft. The Baltimore Ravens currently have 10 picks, including the No. 14 overall pick — their highest since drafting All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 overall pick in 2016.
The free agent signing of veteran offensive tackle Morgan Moses effectively filled the vacated bookend spot opposite Ronnie Stanley for the immediate future. However, the long-term future of the right tackle spot and the overall depth of the position still needs to be addressed.
If General Manager Eric DeCosta decides to wait until Day Two to take a tackle, one prospect he could target, who looks and plays like a Raven, is Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele.
At 6-foot-8 and 384 pounds, the former Golden Gopher is literally the biggest prospect in this entire class that features gargantuan offensive and defensive linemen like Georgia’s Jordan Davis and NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu. As awe-inspiring as his sheer size is, Faalele’s athleticism for a person of his dimensions is equally impressive.
The former rugby player hails from Melbourne, Australia, and has only been playing football since 2016, when he was recruited to play for renowned prep powerhouse IMG Academy. He tested off the charts in high school and even though he only did the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine, he landed on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list at No. 29. At his Pro Day, he produced a vertical leap of 29 inches and an 8-foot-7 broad jump.
Faalele moves exceptionally well for his size, which makes him nearly impossible to bull rush and difficult to get around on the edge. The Ravens got a chance to see him up close and personal at the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl where he put together solid tape in both the week of practice and the All-Star game itself in solo blocking situations/drills as well as working in tandem with linemates.
Really nice rep by Daniel Faalele to stifle the pass rush attempt by talented EDGE rusher Myjai Sanders. pic.twitter.com/nd2ukNZqWP— King of Phinland (@KingOfPhinland) February 1, 2022
In college, he struggled at times giving up pressures to the inside when his opponents used countermoves like spins or faked to the outside before working back in. He appeared to have taken to the coaching he received while in Mobile and showed signs of improvement as the week went along.
Day one: Myjai Sanders puts Daniel Faalele in the spin cycle then bulls him to the ground.— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) February 4, 2022
Day three: Daniel Faalele assists Sanders to the ground when he tries to spin.
Flashes ghost hand, neutral base and over his toes with balance. Goodnight. pic.twitter.com/cA7414rydT
Given that he is still relatively new to the sport, having played it for less than a decade, he is very segmented in his pass sets and doesn’t quite have the natural feel for the game just yet.
He also isn’t the most fleet of foot but that is not surprising because it’s understandably hard to be light on one’s feet when that heavy. However, foot speed can be improved upon with time and training, and isn’t a glaring weakness since his eclipsing size helps him makeup for the ground he initially yields off the line.
The type of coaching he receives at the next level will be instrumental in his development. Ravens offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris is one of the best teachers and developers in the league, so he’d be in good hands if he came to Baltimore.
Until he improves on his technique and can play freer without thinking as much, Faalele can lean into his strengths which are his overwhelming size, strength and run blocking, which he could do in the Ravens’ run-heavy offense. If the Ravens don’t take an offensive tackle in the first round and he is still available to be taken at No. 45 overall, they should run up the card.