- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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In a recent piece posted on ESPN.com, NFL draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. revisits the 2011 draft class, and re-shuffles his prospect rankings based on how they have performed during the early stages of their careers.
Tops on the list is impressive Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who has helped to catalyze Houston's impressive start. He was originally selected 11th, but Kiper believes he has been the best player in the class thus far.
Kiper lists Patriots left tackle Nate Solder, originally the 17th pick in the 2011 draft, as the ninth-best player from the class.
Says Kiper of Solder: "Now the starting left tackle for the Patriots' offense, Solder was a physical freak with room to improve when he was drafted, but he's already playing really well at one of the league's spotlight positions. He's on Tom Brady's blind side, and he can maul as a run-blocker."
The 24-year old Solder played in all 16 regular season games as a rookie in 2011, starting 13. He has played every snap through five games this season, and has stepped up big to fill the shoes of the now-retired Matt Light.
To read the piece in its entirety, click HERE (note: Insider content).