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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Rookie Watch: Solder flashing potential

By Matt Williamson
Scouts Inc.

When Nate Solder was drafted, Matt Light had not yet re-signed with the Patriots. That implied that New England possibly viewed Solder as a young man who could play right away -- possibly on the left side.

Then, New England added Light back into the equation. Of course, the Patriots have another very impressive youngster in Sebastian Vollmer, who could also be considered a better fit for the left side than on the right.

This is a wonderful situation for the Pats, especially considering how often they throw the ball. Personally, I saw Solder as an exceptional physical specimen coming out of college who would need some time to add strength and power and to fill out his huge frame without losing his quick feet or any athletic ability.

I figured New England would bring him into the fold slowly, often utilizing him as a tight end in what really amounts to six-offensive linemen sets. But Solder has been forced to play a lot of snaps right off the bat. In protection, he has been up and down -- but that is what happens to nearly every first-year offensive tackle. What has shocked me is how well Solder has moved people out in the run game. Just think what kind of player he will be once that strength and bulk are eventually added.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.