The New England Patriots lost arguably their most important free agent earlier this offseason: Nate Solder signed a record-breaking four-year, $62 million contract with the New York Giants. With the long-time starter gone, the left tackle spot becomes arguably the team's biggest need heading into the draft – which is exactly why it is no surprise that SB Nation's latest mock draft addresses the position.
31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
AS: After losing Nate Solder in free agency, the left tackle void currently set up to be a battle between LaAdrian Waddle and 2017 third-round pick Antonio Garcia. That’s less than ideal for protecting Tom Brady’s blind side. Miller isn’t a finished product, by any means, but he’s 6’9 and as athletic as any offensive tackle in the draft. He’s not that dissimilar to the prospect Solder was when he was taken by the Patriots in the first round in 2011.
Kolton Miller is an intriguing player at the offensive tackle position due to his elite blend of size and athletic abilities – as Stites notes, his skill set is similar to Nate Solder's when he joined the Patriots. And just like Solder, Miller might benefit from playing rotational snaps early in his NFL career, which makes New England's re-signing of LaAdrian Waddle all the more important in this scenario: Waddle would likely start, with Miller likely taking over in the future.
There is little doubt that the UCLA product would be able to do that. During his three non-redshirt collegiate seasons, Miller appeared in 30 games and by the 2017 season won the Bruins’ starting left tackle role. Staring all 13 contests, the California native earned second-team All-Pac 12 honors as a standout blocker in both the running and the passing game. A technically sound and athletically impressive player, Miller would be a very good pickup late in the first round.
While he still needs to work on his upper-body strength and add some bulk to his frame, Miller brings plenty of upside and nice fundamentals to the table – which makes him exactly the type of player the Patriots and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia could have an eye on come the first day of the draft.