In the days leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify players who project as solid fits for the Patriots:
Player: Nate Solder
Position: Offensive tackle
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-8 1/4, 319 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 3 at offensive tackle (scouting report)
Draft projection: First round
Why he’s on our list: A team captain, he has impressive size and athleticism that makes him a candidate to become a franchise-type left tackle. The Patriots’ left tackle the last 10 seasons, Matt Light, is a free agent.
Recommended link: Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post writes on Solder’s decision to switch from tight end to offensive tackle.
Key stat: Allowed five sacks and 21 pressures in 1,400 career passing plays.
Workout stat: Bench-pressed 21 times, which isn’t as high of a number as one would anticipate from a player his size.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “Some felt like he didn’t have a good Senior Bowl and that he lacks a killer instinct as a blocker. But I disagree with both. When you watch him on film, he has a nastiness about him. Colorado was not a top team, but it didn’t affect the way he played. When they got down in games, and they weren’t in contention late in the season, he still performed at a high level. I like how tenacious and strong he is. He can play with better leverage at times, but he’s 6-foot-8, so it’s always going to be hard for him to sink and get under guys. The best news for him is how well he moves for a guy his size. In 2006, he was a 230-pound tight end in high school. He’ll always be quick and athletic enough to cover up a defender and create that seam, and offensive line coaches will take that all day.”