Name: OT Nate Solder
Size: 6'8, 319 lbs
Expected Round: 1st
3 Cone: 7.44s
Career Stats: Click Here
Strengths: Great potential with a monstrous frame. The most athletic tackle in the first round as a former tight end. Great wing span and, if he learns impeccable technique, he can counter every rusher. He has great work ethic and possesses the drive to become an elite tackle. Able to slide to block the opposition. On a fantastic learning curve and is improving at a great rate. Great feet and can mirror the opposition.
Weaknesses: Not a natural bender and can be beat by speed rushers that he can't reach. Not a mean or overly physical player. Has more of a Stephen Neal-type "I'll block them" attitude than a Logan Mankins-type "I'll destroy them" mind set. Must get stronger to become elite. Still growing into his frame.
Why and Why Not the Patriots after the jump, and my final verdict!
Why the Patriots?: The Patriots have the ability to draft a project tackle and there's no better project than Solder. There's a chance that he drops into the start of the second round, which would present phenomenal value for a potential elite tackle. He can develop for a season or two under Dante Scarneccia and be a tackle of the future. He has some of the most upside in the entire draft and he has the right attitude to be successful. If Matt Light returns for another season or two, Solder could be one of the best investments in this draft.
Why Not the Patriots?: There are plenty of holes in Solder's game so he may not be able to step onto the field as a top rookie starter. Solder has one of the lowest floors of the top 5 tackles and if he doesn't pan out as a tackle, there's not much of a chance that he can play anywhere else on the offensive line.
Verdict: I don't think Solder is worth a first round pick, especially for the Patriots. Some more NFL-ready prospects (Castonzo, Carimi, Sherrod) would be better fits in the first round. If Solder is able to drop into the second round, I feel like he'd be a better target for the Patriots. However, I don't see Solder's draft value matching his value with the Patriots. I assume that he'll be drafted at the end of the first, well before the Patriots should take a draft project.