2011 NFL Draft Results: Patriots' Nate Solder the Right Move as History Shows

Randolph CharlotinAnalyst IIApril 29, 2011

Solder (far left) likely is the left tackle of the future for the Patriots
Solder (far left) likely is the left tackle of the future for the PatriotsDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

Who remembers Bill Belichick’s first draft selection? He was offensive tackle Adrian Klemm, a second-round pick out of Hawaii. Klemm was a bust as he spent five of his six years with the Patriots and had only 10 starts. 

Give the Patriots credit, though. They learned quickly from their mistake. The selection of OT Nate Solder surprised many because Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo was still available.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock spent 45 seconds pointing out Solder’s flaws on video after the Pats’ selection. But New England knows what they like and they pay no attention to outside opinions and evaluations. 

They heard the same criticism when they drafted OT Sebastian Vollmer in 2009. Many analysts didn’t consider Vollmer worthy of a second round pick. But when an injury sidelined starting left tackle Matt Light later that season, Vollmer was able to step in for Light as a rookie.

Vollmer was so good, in fact, people thought Vollmer should replace Light and move the veteran to right tackle. Vollmer started 16 games last year at right tackle. 

Belichick likes to develop O-linemen. They spend late round selections on them to bring along slowly under the expert tutelage of assistant head coach/offensive line Dante Scarnecchia.

New England drafted eleven offensive linemen between rounds four through seven since 2000. In some instances, these low selections become good players for the Patriots, with center Dan Koppen (2003, fifth round) and OT Ryan O’Callahan (2006, sixth round) as examples. 

But when it comes to the top half of the draft, the Patriots don’t miss on offensive linemen. Since 2001, New England has been outstanding at drafting O-linemen: 

2001 – Round 2: 48th overall: OT Matt Light

            3 Pro Bowl selections

            1 All-Pro selection

2005 – Round 1: 32nd overall: G Logan Mankins

            3 Pro Bowl selections

            1 All-Pro selection

2005 – Round 3: 100th overall: OT Nick Kaczur

            6 seasons, 62 starts

2009 – Round 2: 58th overall: OT Sebastian Vollmer

            2 seasons, 24 starts

Solder makes five offensive linemen drafted in the first three rounds since ’01.

Some people don’t like the pick with some of players still available at the time. Others think Solder was selected a little earlier than he should had been. 

It’s tired to repeat In Bill We Trust because the Patriots failed in their last three playoff appearances. Well in the last three playoff games, QB Tom Brady was sacked 13 times.

The Solder selection addresses that problem. Based on Belichick and Scarnecchia’s track record with early offensive line selections, they should be trusted.

Questions? Comments? Send to talktome@randolphc.com