When the players took the field at the first Senior Bowl practice, so much was simultaneously going on that it was impossible to keep tabs on everyone. That said, as the Rams will likely draft help at the offensive line, it made sense to focus on that group of players. One thing about watching offensive line play is that if they win a play, nothing happens. There is no touchdown or massive hit most of the time. However, losing a play means that their quarterback was impacted, potentially causing a sack or turnover. In other words, it is much harder for a lineman to jump off the “screen” in practice, but the Minnesota Gophers’ Daniel Faalele did just that.
Daniel Faalele Wins Award For Biggest Enigma In Day One Of Senior Bowl Practice
One of the most important aspects of an offensive lineman is size. Basically, the bigger the player, the better the chances of success. Bigger linemen can have further reach and also have a higher floor thanks to being able to simply lean into many defensive linemen. Sometimes, simply being bigger and longer can keep quarterbacks clean longer. Of course, speed is another side of the coin. The bigger the lineman, the slower they can be.
Daniel Faalele looked like the biggest lineman out on the field. Standing next to the other linemen, he appeared to be a couple of inches taller than everyone else. Of course, the official measurements could be pulled and compared, but when a defensive lineman is sizing up his competition, he’s not thinking about putting together a spreadsheet. He is simply going on what he sees. The bigger the lineman, the bigger the intimidation factor. This could get the defensive lineman thinking of a plan B strategy in dealing with him. Put simply, Faalele has the biggest chance of making defensive linemen gulp when staring him down across the line of scrimmage.
With size comes power, and Faalele gave as good as he took. During the scrimmage session near the end of practice, Faalele bowled over a defender on a run play. The layout gave the running back an extra few yards of clearance before being forced out of bounds. This gives him a plus on run plays when he gets moving, which could fit well in Sean McVay’s scheme and give the coach the option to return to his roots next season as a run-first play-caller.
Faalele was able to get out in space and deliver some damage, but he was also knocked on his backside once by a defensive lineman. It happened in a mini-scrimmage between the offensive and defensive lines. The drill essentially had a coach pretending to be a quarterback and the offensive and defensive lines lined up and squared off. The goal of the defensive line was to get to the “quarterback” and the goal of the offensive line was to stop them.
One of the defenders got lower than Faalele and pushed him back a few yards before putting him on his back, generating hooting and hollering from the sideline. It was unclear if Faalele was slower off the snap or just wasn’t ready. Perhaps his footing was a little off. Either way, one does not want that happening in a football game.
On top of that, he was a bit slow on repetition in a pass-blocking drill. In the drill, the lineman was lined up against another offensive lineman pretending to be a defensive lineman. Behind the practice, the defensive lineman was two others lined up horizontally. Faalele’s job was to keep his feet churning and pop each player as they attempted to run by him. He was able to get through the first two guys easily enough, but slipped off the third, only glancing at him instead of giving him a pop.
Basically, the lineman was explosive in the run game, has great size, but has questions at speed and power in pass blocking. Is he the future of the Los Angeles Rams? The Rams’ first pick will be in the third round. Based on the holes in Faalele’s game based on the first practice, he could end up right there for the Rams to take.
The Senior Bowl can be seen live on NFL Network on Saturday, February 5th at 1:30 PM CT.