FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In selecting Colorado's Nate Solder with the 17th overall pick of the NFL draft, the Patriots take a big step toward revamping their offensive line, which is one of their offseason goals.
Solder is 6-foot-8 and 319 pounds and could be the team's left tackle of the future. Starting left tackle Matt Light is an unrestricted free agent.
Solder was featured in ESPNBoston.com's "10 possible Patriots" series because he fits the profile of what the Patriots look for in an offensive lineman. He was a team captain, is smart, and is passionate about the game of football. Like Bruce Armstrong, the Patriot Hall of Fame tackle from the 1980s and 1990s, Solder made the transition from tight end to offensive tackle and is considered a solid athlete for his size. He will be worked solely at left tackle, Bill Belichick said.
The Patriots had to feel good entering this draft, knowing that the strength of the draft matched up nicely with their top areas of need -- offensive line, defensive line and running back. The pick might disappoint those who were looking for a defender to bolster the pass rush, such as Cal's Cameron Jordan, but the Patriots must feel the depth in that area is such that they can address it later.
The offensive line is also in transition, requiring an influx of youth, and this gives respected line coach Dante Scarnecchia a prized pupil to work with.