New Ravens offensive tackle Daniel Faalele says he will play with a chip on his shoulder after sliding to the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but at the end of the day, he is excited about how he fits into the offense in Baltimore.
Faalele started 31 games at right tackle for Minnesota from 2018-2021 (he opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic). He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the league’s coaches in 2021 after starting 12 games at right tackle and helping the Gophers post 25.5 points per game en route to a 9-4 season.
Faalele felt good about the Ravens prior to the draft.
“I definitely had a good feeling about the Ravens drafting me,” Faalele said on Glenn Clark Radio May 11. “When I took my visit out here, it just felt like the perfect fit, the perfect offense and coaching staff to help me strive to be the player I want to be. I had a good feeling about it. It was just a waiting game at that point. Once I got the call from the Ravens it was just super exciting and happy for the opportunity.”
Faalele envisioned himself going earlier in the draft than he did — “I’m just going to take this and have a chip on my shoulder and use that as motivation throughout my process,” he noted — but he thinks Baltimore is the right spot for him. And why wouldn’t he? The Ravens have an offensive-lineman-friendly run-heavy offense and a highly respected offensive line coach in Joe D’Alessandris.
Plus, the Ravens have some experience with massive offensive tackles. The 6-foot-9 Faalele played last season at about 385 pounds and wants to get down to 375 for his rookie season in the NFL. Orlando Brown Jr. (6-foot-8, 363 pounds) played right and left tackle for the Ravens from 2018-2020 before being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs last spring.
And that’s not all. Faalele was roommates with Ravens receiver Rashod Bateman for a year at Minnesota, so he’ll have a familiar face at the facility right away. Baltimore just made sense for him.
“It’s definitely super exciting. It’s going to be exciting blocking for Lamar Jackson, he’s just able to make things happen and how he’s back there just making plays,” Faalele said. “He’s going to make me look better and he’s going to be fun to block for, so I’m excited to learn this whole offense and just fully dive into it.”
It’s unclear what Faalele’s role will be in 2022. The Ravens appear to have starters locked in at right tackle (Morgan Moses), right guard (Kevin Zeitler) and center (Tyler Linderbaum). There is uncertainty at left tackle due to Ronnie Stanley’s ankle injury and at left guard, with perhaps as many as four players competing for that spot in camp (Ben Cleveland, Patrick Mekari, Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers).
Though Faalele played right tackle at Minnesota, could he slide to the left side if Stanley isn’t ready for Week 1?
“I feel like I’m going to be prepared and ready to play anything to help the Ravens win,” Faalele said. “I have all the confidence in the world that [D’Alessandris and assistant offensive line coach Mike Devlin will] help me prepare and be ready to play any position. Whatever’s needed for us to win, I’m down for it.”
Faalele touched on other topics as well …
On scoring a touchdown during Minnesota’s bowl game against West Virginia in December:
“We kind of installed that play late in our preparation — probably the Thursday before the game. For me, I just wanted to take it as an opportunity for one of the big guys to get a touchdown. The whole offensive line supported that and wanted to get that for me. Once I had the opportunity to do it in the game, the only thing going through my mind was I really don’t want to slip and fall since they opened up the roof and it was kind of a wet field and stuff like that. I was like, ‘I hope I don’t fall because either way it’s going to go viral.’ Luckily, I was able to stay on my feet and get in the end zone.”
On leaving his home country of Australia to pursue football in the States:
“My journey started when I was 16 when I moved to Florida. That’s when I first started playing organized football. Being around my teammates there, just hearing their dreams and their goals and how they want to make it to the league and perform at their best at the next level definitely inspired me and motivated me to have that as a goal of mine as well. It was just a great environment to work in and grow as a person. I’m definitely grateful for that experience at IMG [Academy]. … It was hard leaving home just because I grew up in a single-parent household, so it was hard leaving my mom and my brother. But it was an easy decision to make because we also [felt] like it was the best decision for me to grow as a football player and to take that next step toward my goals of playing football. We went all-in and it all paid off at the end.”
On what he missed the most being away from home:
“I’d definitely say my family. With COVID and stuff, the borders have been closed for a while. They just recently opened up. Now I’m starting to see my family. I’m able to fly in and stuff. Definitely just miss my family the most out of anything back home. … They’re actually here right now, so they’ll definitely be here. They’ll be able to see some games and stuff.”
For more from Faalele, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Minnesota Athletics