In these early weeks of studying players for the 2021 NFL Draft, consensus on OT1 has been set. As of now, most draft experts consider Oregon’s Penei Sewell to be the top offensive tackle.
After him, the order is a bit of a toss-up as evaluators have only begun to dive into the rest of the class.
But one name that has been popping up in draft Twitter circles is that of Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele. Heading into his junior season, the Australia native is looking to build upon a promising sophomore campaign.
Born in Melbourne, Faalele discovered the game by way of the Hawaii coaching staff. According to ESPN.com Hawaii’s staff visited Australia during a scouting trip and asked him about football of which he had no experience with.
Faalele later attended IMG Academy after participating in a Jim Harbaugh football camp. A few years past and when it was time to pick colleges, Faalele ultimately decided on the University of Minnesota.
During his freshman year with the Golden Gophers, Faalele played in 10 total games while starting eight of them during the 2018 season. A year later, Faalele started in 11 games, missing two due to injury a leg injury.
When you go to watch Faalele the very first thing that pops out is his size. Standing at 6-9 and weighing in at roughly 400 pounds, Faalele’s body type is not too dissimilar from that of former NFL tackle King Dunlap.
As for his play on the field, Faalele moves very well for a man his size. Overall he has a smooth kick slide and advances well to the second level.
Daniel Faalele is 6’8” and 400 pounds and can get to the second level without laboring pic.twitter.com/ggImrgPTU1
— Tyler Forness (@TheRealForno) May 2, 2020
Faalele does not waste a ton of time getting into his pass sets. He displays consistent timing and will get a good initial punch on his opponents. Versus the run, he keeps his feet moving at a solid rate while using power to move opponents out of the way.
Minnesota tackle Daniel Faalele (#78) can move for 6-9 400lbs.
– Solid kick slide
– Got a good initial contact with his hands
– Kept a solid base
– Didn’t open his chest up too much pic.twitter.com/BI7cb2ug1o
— Nick Price (Ravens 0-0) (@PriceCheck3) May 1, 2020
But the most glaring concerns that come with Faalele lie within two aspects, his weight and his ability to handle the speed rush. This past draft season there were questions regarding Mekhi Becton‘s weight and the NFL might view Faalele the same way.
As for his lapses in play, Faalele will sometimes look overwhelmed by speed rushers. During the Penn State game, Faalele had trouble containing defensive end Shaka Toney at times.
Going into his junior year for the Golden Gophers, Faalele still has more room to grow as a player and improve. As of right now, Faalele displays plenty of upside for a player of his make up.
He may have to cut down his weight to appease the NFL, but his movement skills and strength could be enough to get people talking. Depending on how evaluations continue, Faalele may be considered a top-five tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft coming out of the summer.
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