Daniel Faalele might be the biggest player in the NFL, but the Aussie is fitting in seamlessly at the Baltimore Ravens and winning plaudits from teammates, prominent journalists and head coach John Harbaugh.
The 203cm, 175kg right tackle was seen as a project player for the already-strong Ravens offensive line after being picked up in the fourth round of the NFL Draft – but he has taken to the cutthroat world of NFL like a duck to water.
With training camp in full swing, Faalele has excelled with his reps and caught the eye of many.
Harbaugh was full of praise for the 22-year-old man mountain from Melbourne after the squad’s first session in full pads.
Daniel Faalele talks to the media after being picked up in the fourth round of the NFL draft
The Aussie joined the Baltimore Ravens and has earned high praise from head coach John Harbaugh
‘For Daniel (Faalele), it’s just daily progress – just take it one day at a time. We’ll keep coaching him,’ Harbaugh said at a press conference following one day of training camp earlier this week.
‘He’s very coachable, he corrects himself very quickly, he applies the coaching quickly. So, it’s daily progress, and he’s making nice strides. He’s a pleasure to have right here.’
Journalists, podcasters and keen Ravens fans were salivating over their potential franchise right tackle.
‘Most interesting battle of the day was Travis Jones vs Daniel Faalele,’ wrote blogger Chris Schisler on Twitter.
Ended up being a non consequence part of a picked pass by Damarian Williams. Anyway Jones gave Faalele a lot to handle and Faalele gave up ground but held his own.’
Daniel Faalele gets to work at the Baltimore Ravens training camp on July 30
Jones, a third round defensive tackle, is a highly-touted defensive prospect for the Ravens – so the fact Faalele could ‘hold his own’ is a fantastic sign for someone still relatively new to the game.
Schisler elaborated on a training camp report that he ‘liked what he saw out of Faalele.’
‘The rookie right tackle is way ahead of where I thought he would be. I still see him as a back-up for now, but the potential is there,’ he wrote for Russell Street Report.
Ravens beat writer Kyle Phoenix Barber noted a good rep Faalele had on linebacker Jeremiah Moon, while one Twitter user joked the Aussie behemoth had ‘steel support beams for legs’.
Prior to training camp, Harbaugh praised the big man’s exciting athleticism.
‘He’s going to play this year, there’s no doubt about it. The guy is big. He can move. He has good feet,’ he said.
Despite all the praise, Faalele is not a lock to make the final 52-man roster – though many believe he will survive the cut given his obvious raw potential.
He stood out, literally of course as well, prior to being drafted.
While playing for the University of Minnesota, Faalele almost broke the internet when he became the largest man in college football history to score a touchdown.
Daniel Faalele (right) towers over Jalen Jordan of the Scarlet Knights at a college game in 2019
He became known for his ultra-aggressive blocking and exceptional development as the longer each season progressed.
This was despite Faalele playing American football for the first time in 2017 after being discovered by a coach for the University of Hawaii while working out at a gym in Melbourne.
He was offered a college scholarship immediately and the rest, as they say, is history.
From there he starred at a camp set up in Melbourne by coaches from Michigan, then went to the IMG Academy in Florida to start learning the game and was soon starring for their team as they went undefeated.
Daniel Faalele (centre, lying on the ground) with his University of Minnesota teammates
Faalele wears size 18 shoes and XXXXXXXXL shirts – but of course he isn’t the only giant Aussie making strides in the NFL world.
Former Rabbitoh Jordan Mailata might just turn out to be the best left tackle in the league once this season is over.
Fans, former players and NFL pundits are in no doubt Mailata has already started living up to his enormous potential despite never playing a game of gridiron before being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018.
Jordan Mailata at Eagles training camp on July 30
Scarily, with more experience and an improved roster, the 203cm behemoth can get even better – not that you’d know by going off his rank on the latest Madden NFL video game.
He was given a rating of 84 out of 100, six outside the top 10 and well below what many expected him to rate.
The snub set fans and pundits off, with one Twitter user simply lashing out at ‘the disrespect’.