Australia’s Daniel Faalele remains on NFL Draft radar

Standing at 6’8” and nearly 400 pounds, he was a sensation before he stepped on the gridiron. Now, after a promising college career, Daniel Faalele is already one of the most famous international American football players ever. 

Faalele was raised in Melbourne, Australia, and discovered while playing rugby and basketball in his home country. It did not take long before the Australian behemoth was headed to the IMG Academy, where his mere size was a guaranteed recipe for going viral. Despite all the jokes and memes about his height and weight, he has put together an impressive college career, and recently played in the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl. 

This is particularly notable because the Senior Bowl is known for having players weigh in beforehand, and Faalele blew away every other competitor. He is built along the mold of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jordan Mailata, a fellow Australian tackle who got to the NFL through the International Player Pathway Program. 

However, some scouts and analysts say he didn’t have the best performance. The Senior Bowl is another level of talent, and Faalele struggled with quicker, more athletic defenders.

Though his stock may have fallen, it’s important to remember this is just one game. Faalele still has legitimate potential to become a high-level player in the NFL. He was a four-star recruit going into college, and he turned down offers from Alabama, Georgia, and LSU to go to Minnesota. At Minnesota, he received honorable mentions in his conference in his first two years. Despite speculation that he would enter the draft after his junior season, he played one more year at Minnesota. In 2021 he started for the whole season while surrendering only one sack on 777 snaps.

Now, he could go as early as the second round, according to Bleacher Report’s scouting department. Coaches rave about his combination of size and speed, scouts note his nimbleness, and fans extol his ability to toss grown men aside like they’re toddlers. 

At the same time, there are valid concerns. Faalele began playing organized football later than most, and he also may just be too big to be successful. The NFL is a different level — pancaking players you’re bigger than isn’t exactly possible anymore. Still, he has shown incredible progress in just a few short years. Continued investment in his development could yield a franchise guard or tackle for the next 10 years.

The discovery of Faalele — and his subsequent success — speak to what international players can bring to American football. Coming so soon after Mailta, Faalele might help usher in a new era of international excellence.