It’s been several weeks since the 2022 NFL Draft concluded and the hype for the Baltimore Ravens’ impressive 11-man haul is still high. Often overly optimistic and sometimes unfair projections are placed on first-year players entering the league before they even take a snap in the preseason. With that in mind, the return of my annual realistic expectation article series has arrived.
OT Daniel Faalele
Round 4 No. 110 overall
The former Minnesota Golden Gopher is literally the biggest player to ever enter the league and one of its most athletic given his enormous size and stature at 6-foot-8 and 380 pounds. He screamed Raven the moment he declared for this year’s draft and was projected to go as high as the second round before falling to day three where the General Manager Eric DeCosta took him early in the fourth round.
The Ravens already addressed their vacancy at right tackle with the signing of eight-year veteran Morgan Moses in free agency on a very team-friendly contract. However, the value and immense developmental potential that Faalele presented were too great to pass up. He is an elite athlete that is still relatively new to the game of football, having only been playing it since he was an upperclassman in high school at the vaunted IMG Academy. He was first discovered in Australia by University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, the younger brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
Faalele was consistently compared to former Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. during the pre-draft process. Brown Jr. developed into a perennial Pro Bowler in Baltimore before his desire to play on the blindside resulted in him being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason. Faalele has the talent to follow a similar path to playing time, a full-time starting role, and potentially elite status.
Unlike Brown Jr. who was a left tackle in college and flipped to the right side once he got to the pros, Faalele is a natural at the position and played exclusively on the right side at the collegiate level. While he is still a little raw and isn’t very refined in his technique, he will have the opportunity to sit and learn behind Moses as a rookie. He could make a push for a starting role in the second half of the season if his learning curve doesn’t prove to be as steep as projected.
He likely won’t beat out the seasoned veteran in training camp/preseason and could wind up being third on the depth chart if the Ravens’ other eight-year veteran, Ja’Wuan James, makes a full recovery and the team decides to keep him. Given how debilitating their lack of capable depth at offensive tackle was in 2021, keeping as many quality options at the position makes sense.
Even if Faalele doesn’t make a single start at right tackle, expect to still see him on the field as an extra blocker on the end of the line and possibly even in the backfield in heavy package short-yardage situations. Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman could potentially even draw up and call plays in which the former rugby player either receives the ball on handoffs or throws it on pop-passes near and at the goal-line.