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NFL Draft 2011: Patriots Select Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

With the 17th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots have selected Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder.

While Solder was my third ranked tackle on the board, I am honestly surprised to see him go at the 17th overall spot to the Patriots, especially with Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo still on the board at the position.

I also wonder what this pick means for Matt Light. Solder is considered somewhat of a pure left tackle without the versatility of an Anthony Castonzo or Gabe Carimi. Also, the selection of Solder likely limits Sebastian Vollmer to the right side for the rest of his Patriots career.

Don't get me wrong though, there are many positives to this selection. Solder has a great frame at over 6'8" and 319 pounds. He is a former tight end and is one of the most athletic tackles in the draft. He allowed just five sacks over three season at Colorado, and is already pretty polished as a pass blocker. He needs to add some strength, and needs some work as a run blocker. Overall, however, Solder has one of the highest ceilings of any left tackle in this draft. On a positive note, he will not have any issues with speed rushers.

Instant Draft Grade: B+