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Surprise surprise. The Patriots elected to actually select a player with pick No. 17 in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The Patriots select Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. Solder was ranked No. 1 in our offensive tackle rankings and appeared in one of our previous mocks.
Solder is a developmental prospect that could develop into one of the best tackles in the NFL within a few years. With Sebastian Vollmer on one side, Solder gives the Patriots one of the biggest groups of tackles in the NFL. The Patriots passed on California’s Cameron Jordan, Alabama’s Mark Ingram and Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers.
Here’s a write up from our profile on Solder.
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.