Thu, 26 May 2022

Daniel Faalele Is Eager to Prove He's Not a Project

Baltimore Ravens
12 May 2022, 05:25 GMT+10

Ryan Mink

There's a lot of potential in Daniel Faalele's 6-foot-8, 380-pound body. How quickly he reaches it will be the question.

The Ravens already signed veteran Morgan Moses this offseason. As long as Ronnie Stanley is ready to go at left tackle by season's start, Moses will be locking down the right side. That means Faalele likely won't be called on to be a starter during his rookie year.

However, the Ravens know better than to count out the importance of tackle depth. Head Coach John Harbaugh isn't signing Faalele up for a redshirt season.

"He's going to play this year, there's no doubt about it," Harbaugh said at the end of rookie minicamp. "The guy is big. He can move. He has good feet. I was just watching the tape just now. He's moving his feet really well. And yet, he has so much to learn. He has to go to work every day to get better, but I anticipate him playing football for us this year."

Growing up in Australia, Faalele played basketball and rugby, two popular sports there that also crave large human beings. It wasn't until Faalele was 16 years old that football found him.

While Faalele was working out at Conquest Athletic Performance in Melbourne, he was noticed by Hawaii offensive line coach and 13-year NFL veteran Chris Naeole, who offered him a football scholarship on the spot.

He also caught the attention of Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, who decided to hold a satellite camp in Melbourne with a watchful eye on Faalele, who still hadn't even played football yet. After moving to the United States, Faalele attended IMG Academy in Florida. He spent one year learning the sport in practice before helping lead IMG Academy to an undefeated season in 2017, which brought on offers from all the biggest college programs.

Faalele was still raw, but he played in 10 games and started the final eight for Minnesota as a true freshman in 2018. He was a full-time starter every season after that except for 2020, when he sat out because of COVID-19 concerns.

Asked during rookie minicamp whether he is motivated to get on the NFL field quicker than some people may think, Faalele said "that's something I definitely want to prove."

"Every step of this journey, I've been able to compete and play early," he said. "So, that's definitely a goal of mine, and I'm going to be striving for it, but I'm just going to take it day by day and just keep my head down and grind."

Every rookie has an adjustment process when making the jump to the NFL. First-round safety Kyle Hamilton said rookie minicamp was already harder than expected. But Faalele's pure size and athleticism give him a high base from which to jump.

"Just getting the full playbook and learning that and taking that in, I feel like is going to be the biggest challenge," Faalele said. "But I feel comfortable with 'Coach D' [Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris] and [Assistant Offensive Line Coach] Coach [Mike] Devlin that they're great teachers. So, I'm comfortable with them."

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