Australia’s NFL rising star Daniel Faalele – the league’s heaviest player – will live up to an unlikely fairy tale when he makes his debut for the Baltimore Ravens on Monday morning (AEST).
The 6′ 8″ and 370 lb Melbourne offensive lineman was originally selected by the Ravens as a project player in the fourth round of the NFL draft in April, and many predicted he would not play at all this season.
But after impressing in training camp and suffering a string of injuries to key players on the Ravens offensive line, Faalele will now fit remarkably well into Baltimore’s game against the Dolphins.
It’s a remarkable feat for the Australian to adapt to the cutthroat world of the NFL as smoothly as a duck to water.
That’s despite Faalele only playing American football for the first time in 2017 after he was spotted by a University of Hawaii coach while working out at a gym in Melbourne.
After getting a taste of what the NFL is like from the sidelines in last Monday’s Ravens 24-9 win over the Jets, Faalele is excited to be more involved.
“The atmosphere was crazy and of course it was 9/11 and the crowd made it a special game,” he told Wide World of Sports.
“The national anthem played and the whole crowd sang and it just gave me goosebumps.”
Should he be asked to step onto the field, he will be tasked with protecting one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league; and Faalele said Lamar Jackson is everything the public expects of him.
“Lamar is a reserved guy, great to be around – he’s funny too. But having him on the field as a quarterback is special, I can’t even explain it. He makes things happen that you never see,” he said.
Baltimore’s top beat writer Jeff Zrebiec predicted Jackson could desperately need Faalele’s protection – with the team making no changes to the roster for the offensive line.
“Ravens don’t raise OT David Sharpe so this almost certainly means first time rookie OT Daniel Faalele will be active and be the swing tackle,” he wrote on Twitter
Faalele literally stood out before being drafted.
While playing for the University of Minnesota, Faalele almost broke the internet when he became the tallest man in college football history to score a touchdown.
The 174kg tackle, who set up at full-back, rolled over a bunch of hapless West Virginia defenders.
We couldn’t see him compete in a skill position, could we? Certainly not.
“I’ve played a little bit of big tight end, so they’re just taking me around and see what I can do,” Faalele said, suggesting Ravens coach John Harbaugh might have a few tricks up his sleeve.
“It’s definitely fun being an extra lineman, just coming down on someone and blocking everyone that’s in front of me. You don’t have to think much, really just play fast and leave the ball.
Considering that Travis Kelce, arguably the best tight end in the league, gave away 7cm and 57kg to Faalele, that would be an extraordinary development.
The scenes Down Under when Faalele could line up on the tight end and somehow manage to be the heaviest player to ever score an NFL touchdown would be a sight to behold.