The Green Bay Packers own two picks in the first round (Nos. 22 and 28) of the 2022 NFL draft. In this “Packers draft profile” series, we will look at several options for Green Bay in the first round and dissect their collegiate careers, highlight reel and how they would fit with the team.
In this edition, we look at Minnesota offensive lineman Daniel Faalele.
Picture the Incredible Hulk in a set of shoulder pads and a helmet. Faalele seems larger than that.
The ex-Gophers tackle looks built to push people around, which he has done to a degree the last three seasons. There’s loads of potential left to be harnessed because of the novelty of football to Faalele.
As a freshman, Faalele played in 10 games and started the final eight at right tackle. The Gophers offense scored 23 touchdowns on the ground and another 20 through the air – the first time Minnesota reached 20+ in both categories since 2006. Faalele carried his freshman momentum into 2019, making 11 starts.
The 2019 Minnesota offense totaled 5,616 yards, third most in school history, and scored the program’s second-most points in a season (443) in the modern era. Faalele missed games vs. Nebraska and Auburn.
After opting out during the pandemic-altered season in 2020, Faalele slotted back in as Minnesota’s starting right tackle, and blocked for an offense that rushed for 199.3 yards per game. The supersized human even realized a linemen’s dream, plunging in for six points from two yards out on a handoff in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. West Virginia – it was thick and beautiful but not as nimble as this touchdown.
Faalele arrived at Minnesota with one year of games under his belt. He enrolled at IMG Academy, a football breeding ground in Florida, in 2016 but strictly practiced his first season to learn the sport. Faalele competed the next year on an unbeaten team and earned prestige as a national recruit
Faalele’s size (6-foot-8, 384 pounds) is bonkers, but because of a background in rugby and basketball, it’s not his only clout. He accelerates fairly well and is athletic enough to engage mid-level defenders.
Fun fact: With his forthcoming selection in the draft, Faalele will be the first Gophers offensive lineman taken since 2006 when Greg Eslinger and Mark Setterstrom were picked in the sixth and seventh rounds.
40-yard dash: N/A
Bench press: 24 reps
Vertical jump: N/A
Broad jump: N/A
3-cone drill: N/A
20-yard shuttle: N/A
Note: At Minnesota’s Pro Day, Faalele ran the 40 in 5.6 seconds and posted jumps of 29.5 (vertical) and 7 feet, nine inches (broad jump).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Enormous right tackle prospect who often feels like he's going through an internal checklist of movements rather than cutting it loose and playing. Faalele has been able to overwhelm and move opponents with his sheer mass but might need a little more spice in his play demeanor to become a more willful, nasty block finisher against NFL linemen. He's ready to stuff a face-up rush attack right now, but lacks the lateral change-of-direction quickness to succeed if left out on an island against speed. He's played just four total seasons of competitive football so his instincts and technique will continue to sharpen. The key to Faalele's NFL success will be directly tied to how teams accentuate his strengths and mask his weaknesses with coaching and scheme.” – Lance Zierlein
“Faalele uses good quickness out of his stance on 45-degree and jump sets to get to his spot, cover up rushers and stay leveraged on blocks once engaged. However, he does have a bad habit of oversetting widely aligned rushers, with a need to play inside-out more consistently to avoid opening the door inside. Faalele's hands are powerful, but his strike timing and placement (wide) are inconsistent, allowing crafty rushers easy access to his frame. Overall, Faalele has an enticing blend of size, ease of movement and natural power with some notable refinement as a run-blocker. He will likely need to have some schemed help as a pass protector for his first few years as a starter while he refines his set points and use of hands, but his relative lack of time playing football and tools suggest he can continue improving the finer aspects of the position while being an asset in the run game right away.” – Brandon Thorn
“Daniel Faalele projects as a viable starting offensive tackle at the NFL level despite some areas of improvement needed throughout his game. Faalele is a freakishly large athlete for the game and moves with more agility and grace than you'd ever expect from a man of his stature. Add in his raw size and it is clear that Faalele offers the "unteachable" dynamics of the position and will likely be coveted as a result of having all the tools in the toolbox and simply needing refinement on his technique. … There's a dynamic of risk and reward here that needs to be weighed, but teams with accomplished offensive line coaches who are comfortable in player development should not shy away from the challenges that come with an investment here.” – Kyle Crabbs
HOW HE FITS
For perspective, Faalele is an inch shorter than Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden and 50 pounds heavier than Super Bowl icon William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Gargantuan is the right word. Faalele also possesses tremendous athleticism and might be a higher-projected pick if he wasn’t so raw. All in all, he’d fit well along the Packers offensive line, even if he isn’t penciled in as an instant starter. Faalele’s future is at right tackle and picking him would give Green Bay the freedom to kick Elgton Jenkins inside to guard long term. In four years of football, Faalele has NFL starter potential. Wonder what his career trajectory will hold after four more and NFL coaching.