With the 17th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, former Colorado Buffaloes OT Nate Solder was selected by the New England Patriots. What a great situation for the big offensive lineman. Solder has the opportunity to play for one of the best coaches in all of football and protect one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in Tom Brady.
The Indianapolis Colts, a rival of the New England Patriots, were supposed to be the favorite for Solder at #22 but the Patriots beat the Colts to the punch. The Patriots also have another first round pick, the 28th overall.
New England fans will love Solder's measurables and upside. The 6'9" 315 pound offensive lineman isn't just your regular big body, though. Going into the past season, ESPN.com ranked Solder as one of their "freak" athletes in the nation. See if these measurements qualify as a "freak". Remember, this is a 315 pound person. Solder has less than 7.5% body fat, he power-cleaned 415 pounds, hang-cleaned 473 pounds and can run a 4.88 forty and oh yeah, has a 32 inch vertical jump.
Solder gets his athleticism from his high school and early college days as a tight end. He started out catching passes but before his sophomore season, he added 30 pounds and moved to the offensive line where he started every game. Amazingly quick transition, another reason many admire his athletic abilities.
Solder came into his senior year labeled as one of the best lineman in the country. He had proved enough his junior year to be named for the Outland Award watch list and ended up as a finalist for the award honoring the best offensive lineman in the country. He was named first team All Big 12 and earned All-America honors as a senior where he was a consensus choice. According to the CU SID, he played 2,540 out of a possible 2,542 plays on offense his sophomore through senior seasons; of those, exactly 1,400 were called passing plays, and he allowed just five sacks those three years.
Solder is still considered a work in progress due to only playing left tackle for three years. He still has room for improvement but you can't teach what he brings to the table in terms of athleticism and feel for the game. He is also very intelligent, making the final 16 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy in 2010, also known as the academic Heisman.
Todd McShay also had great things to say about Solder after his first day of Senior Bowl practices:
On the other side of the ball, Solder continues to be dominant. The thing that's impressed me is how stong he's been at the point of attack and finishing. We knew about his size and natural feet, and he's been all those things, but he's been nasty this week and it's been good to see. There are no cheap shots, but a couple of times when he could have finished a play a little easier, he just finished the guy. He buried Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan (who has a first-round grade) on Monday, and he went on the second level to pancake Boston College LB Mark Herzlich on one play and Ohio State's Ross Homan on another.
More from cubuffs.com on Nate Solder below:
Nate Solder: Solder, one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy which will be awarded December 9, was a dominant force on the offensive line this fall. A tight end his first two years as a Buffalo, he moved to tackle in 2008 and gradually worked his way into becoming one of the top tackles in the nation. In grading out to better than 94 percent for the season (90 percent or higher in 11 of 12 games), he played every snap on offense (847), thrice had 18 knockdown/finish blocks (versus CSU, Hawai'i and Kansas State) and recorded a team-high 148 total. He also had 10 touchdown blocks while allowing just two quarterback sacks and three pressures. All 32 NFL teams have scouted the Buffaloes in 2010, and the general consensus is that he will be a high first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Make sure and head over to Pats Pulpit and see what New England fans think of the pick.
Congratulations to Nate Solder. What a great opportunity to develop and be a success in the NFL!