|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Day Weekend!||2014-2015 NBA Expert Picks Results||2015 NHL Expert Playoff Picks: First Round||Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Death of Odin Lloyd|
2010 stats: N/A (offensive line stats are not recorded)
You won’t find many guys who are 6’8″ with light feet and the agility of a 6’3″, 250-pound linebacker. However, Colorado’s Nate Solder fits the bill. Size is just one of Solder’s many strengths that could propel him into the top 20.
Solder’s greatest quality on the field is his pass-blocking ability. Remarkably enough, last season Solder allowed just one sack (five in his entire career) and was called for just one penalty. If nothing else this shows that he is extremely disciplined. Let’s take this a step further. Since his sophomore season, Solder missed just two plays offensively, playing in 2,540 snaps with the Buffs. It’s a cliche, but Solder is a machine — literally.
All around, Solder is the type of player you can build your team around. On top of all the previous reasons, Solder’s intelligent, he works hard, and he has experience playing in a big conference. So, why isn’t Solder battling USC’s Tyron Smith for the No. 1 offensive tackle ranking? Solder’s run-blocking is average, to say the least and some believe that he can be exposed in the NFL because he does not play low enough to the ground.
Solder entered Colorado as a tight-end, which he also played at Buena Vista High School in Colorado, so he is still raw in terms of his technique at tackle. In a lot of ways Solder is similar to Patriots 2009 second round pick Sebastian Vollmer. Like Solder, Vollmer was relatively new to the position.
With proper coaching in the NFL, Solder will only continue to climb.
Imagine Vollmer lined up on the right side at 6’7″, 315 lbs., with Solder on the right. You would be hard pressed to find a more physically imposing pair of tackles.
It’s no secret that the Patriots have shown interest in Solder, as he’s a guy that New England could covet at No. 17. With Matt Light’s status unclear, along with the continued saga with Logan Mankins, and the retirement of Stephen Neal, the Patriots are in line to draft multiple offensive lineman at the end of April.
The few negatives of Solder’s game shouldn’t worry the Patriots as they dealt with Vollmer, with great success, a couple of years ago. Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia — one of the most underrated coach in the NFL — thrives off getting every ounce of potential in his lineman. In large part, Scarnecchia was responsible for Neal’s success in the NFL, and the surprising play of guys like, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir. It’s safe to assume that Scarnecchia would have no trouble with Solder.
Solder seems like the perfect fit in New England, so don’t be surprised if the Patriots trade down from 17, gather another pick, and select Solder around 22 or 23.
Follow me on Twitter: @M_Marcantonio