Thursday, April 28, 2011
Patriots stick at 17, add Solder to O-line
By Tim Graham
In a mild upset, the New England Patriots didn't trade the 17th draft pick. Then they used it to draft 6-foot-8 Colorado tackle Nate Solder.
Why the Patriots took him: The Patriots seem to have strength at tackle. Young right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was voted second-team All-Pro, and veteran left tackle Matt Light went to the Pro Bowl last season as an alternate. But Light is a free agent and will turn 33 in a few weeks. O-line stability is important to keeping Tom Brady on the field, and the Patriots grabbed the second tackle off the board.
How it affects the roster: Patriots right guard Stephen Neal retired, and All-Pro left guard Logan Mankins is unhappy. If Light does come back, a shuffle might be in order. But Patriots fans should feel comfortable knowing O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia will get it all sorted out.
Scouts Inc. says: Exceptional combination of size and natural athleticism. Long arms. Tough to get around him in pass protection when he gets proper depth. Great feet for size. Does a nice job of locking on with long arms and flashes ability to control rushers once in position. However, he does not have a powerful punch and he lacks upper body strength (only 21 reps on bench press confirms what we see on tape).