Nate Solder, an enormous 6'8", 319-pound offensive tackle out of Colorado, carries plenty of achievements with him into the NFL. The 2010 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, consensus first team All-American and Outland Trophy finalist started his freshman season in Boulder as a tight end.
He doesn’t look like your prototypical left tackle.
“Delete the vision of the perfect tackle you've banked in your mind,” says Jeff Reynolds of The Sports XChange. “Solder is the sleek, super-charged version of the old-school model. But his taller, skinnier, more athletic appearance doesn’t mean he’s an easy target for opposing defenses."
“Getting around Solder,” Reynolds continues, “requires either elite raw power or a forklift. There's no looping around his 81-inch wingspan and he's agile enough to limit mistakes. When stacking himself against the top blockers in this class, Solder said ‘I think I'm more athletic than they are, I can move a little better in space.’”
Solder may not have the natural strength or speed of some other O-line prospects, but he makes up for it with athleticism and his willingness to learn more about playing his position.
Heading to a team like New England—with a couple of veterans from whom he can learn—should be a great landing spot for the still-raw Solder. And if there's anyone who can help him learn some technique, it's Bill Belichick.
Draft grade: B-