The Las Vegas Raiders have been known for having massive offensive linemen in the past and they don’t come much bigger than Minnesota offensive tackle Daniel Faalele. He’s an impactful run blocker with his size and strength combination and should be on the table for the Raiders in this year’s NFL Draft.
OT | Minnesota | 6’ 8 1/8” and 387 pounds | Melbourne, Australia | November 9th, 1999 (22.3)
Faalele came to Minnesota as a 4-star recruit from the IMG Academy where he was introduced to football after playing rugby and basketball in his home country of Australia. The Aussie earned a starting spot six games into his freshman season and has been a mainstay at right tackle in Minneapolis ever since. He managed to post PFF run-blocking grades of 78.9 and 70.5 as a junior and sophomore and allowed 33 career pressures, in the Gophers’ system that used a zone-heavy running scheme with a lot of play-action and short to intermediate passes.
- Elite and rare size and he carries his 380-pound frame well
- Pretty quick off the ball out of a two-point stance on run or pass plays to get on top of defensive linemen quickly
- Primarily uses jump and 45-degree sets and he times his punch well, throws fake punches and changes when he throws it to keep pass rushers off balance
- Has a strong post arm to help the guard in pass protection
- Top-tier play strength in pass pro to stop defensive ends’ momentum and very long arms (35 3/8”) to create separation
- His size alone makes it difficult for bull rushers to go through his chest, he anchors well against smaller to midsized defensive ends
- Good/quick to recognize ET stunts, solid (slightly slower) to recognize and pickup/pass off TE stunt
- On zone runs, he secures the inside first and makes good use of a read step, with the strength and base to help absorb contact
- Takes flat angles on down blocks and has play strength and leg drive to wash defensive ends past the center
- Can control defenders with his hands and upper body strength on base blocks and get good push against defensive ends once he gets his feet underneath him
- His quickness off the ball, use of a bucket step and upper body strength allows him to protect the inside and create cutback lanes on backside cutoff blocks, he can stay in front and toss defensive ends inside
- When working up to the second level, he uses efficient angles with good acceleration and can finish blocks with linebackers on the ground
- Impressive grip strength to help stay engaged on run blocks
Areas of Improvement:
- Lacks foot speed when asked to use a vertical set on longer pass plays, making him a hazard to get beat around the edge
- Has a habit of leaning when he punches which pass rushers who have good use of hands can take advantage of
- Struggles mightily against inside counter moves due to a consistent overset on 45-degree sets, adequate COD when engaged in pass pro and a habit of stopping his feet
- Doesn’t sink his hips well to anchor against pass rushers who excel at turning speed to power
- He does a lot of catching on all run blocks because he has adequate timing with his hands and exposes his chest. He also has sub-par knee bend, making him pretty reliant on his size and strength
- Struggles to stay in front of defensive ends who can use their quickness to avoid blocks, similar to his issues versus inside counters in pass pro
- Typically a little late to come off the first level of a combo block to pick up scraping linebackers and he also doesn’t recognize when to stay attached to the defensive lineman after the linebacker and lineman switch gaps post-snap
- On the play side of outside zone, he’s a bit of a liability as he lacks the agility and hip mobility to seal the edge, and his issues with leaning make him susceptible to getting beat by swim moves and falling off balance when turning a reach into a base block.
- His wide hand placement on base blocks towards the outside of the shoulder toes the line of holding and allows defensive linemen who are good with their hands to shed
- Likes to lean on defenders when run blocking and his shoulders get over his toes, leading to balance issues and making it easier for stronger defensive linemen to get off his blocks
- 2019: Right Ankle Injury (Limited to 10 snaps Week 14 and missed Bowl Game)
NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 40th, 2nd round
The second round seems like a pretty good value for Faalele. He certainly has his flaws and is someone I’d consider “raw” at the moment, but he does show plenty of potential, especially as a run blocker, and 6’8” 380-pound dudes who can move like he does at that size don’t come around often. In other words, the Aussie is worth taking a chance on.
Schematically, his fit is a bit of an enigma. He’d probably be better in a gap system right away that allows him to execute down blocks and work up to the second level, but some of his best blocks in college came on backside cutoffs to create cutback lanes on zone runs. The problem is, his issues on combo and reach blocks will make a zone-heavy attack a rougher transition. So, I think he’d be best in a gap scheme that’s coupled with a quick passing attack at least to start his NFL career.
What do we need to know?
How will he hold up in pass protection with more true pass sets in the NFL? Minnesota’s offense helped hide some of Faalele’s flaws as a pass blocker and some of those came to light at the Senior Bowl, most notably his struggles against inside counters. Being able to stay in front of quick edge rushers in space could be his undoing at the next level.
Fit with the Raiders:
As mentioned above, Las Vegas has a glaring need and Faalele could fill it, especially if he’s still available with the 53rd overall pick. Also, McDaniels likes to use a gap-heavy rushing attack and get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly in the passing game, so the former Gopher should be a good scheme fit.
My biggest concern with the Raiders drafting Faalele is in pass protection. They drafted Alex Leatherwood last year who had a similar issue — his run blocking being ahead of his pass blocking — and the results were pretty ugly. The last thing the new regime wants to have is two right tackles who can’t protect the quarterback, but then again, they could also play the odds and hope that at least one of them figures it out.
Daniel Faalele (RT) takes a nice flat angle to avoid getting beat across his face by the slanting DL, & he keeps his legs going to creat a cutback lane…that is, if the TE doesn’t get his ass kicked— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 19, 2022
This time with a finish from Daniel Faalele (RT) & an assist from the OG— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 19, 2022
Daniel Faalele (RT) with a beautiful example of why you should always get a pass rusher’s hands off you— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 19, 2022
Daniel Faalele (RT) gets a hold of the back shoulder and it’s game over— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 19, 2022
What a climb to the 2nd level by Daniel Faalele (RT) pic.twitter.com/tPyzq4Cl17— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 19, 2022
Not a dominating block by any means but you can see can example of Daniel Faalele’s (RT) upper body strength to ride this DT’s momentum & seal him inside, creating a cutback lane pic.twitter.com/fCy0IKA78N— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 19, 2022