Nate Solder, OT, Colorado Buffaloes
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Nate Solder has so far been given good reviews from Senior Bowl practices. He is athletic and has a frame that should be capable of putting on a few more pounds in the NFL, although at 6'9 and 315 pounds with long arms he already possesses a prototypical build for a tackle. His agility and quick hands help him as a pass blocker and he has above average strength that helps him push around linebackers and smaller defensive ends.
He moves well and adapts to blitzes from the defense to pick up a rushing linebacker, and is usually able to adjust himself to handle moves from pass rushers. He's a battler in pass protection and is a good run blocker who doesn't allow defenders to get leverage on him despite his height. As mentioned, he's very athletic which helps him into the second or third levels of the defense and allows him to be an effective blocker on screen passes.
Solder has had trouble with edge rushers. He struggles to get off the snap well on every down, although for a player his size he's usually able to come out of his stance pretty quickly. He could stand to widen his base a bit, especially when dealing with edge rushers. When his base becomes more narrow edge rushers are able to take advantage and turn the corner. He bends his knees well on most plays, but when he doesn't speed rushers have been able to get around him despite his exceptional mobility for a tackle of his size.
A former tight end, Solder is a very hard worker and was even honored for his efforts in the spring of 2009 when he was given the John Wooten Award for work ethic. He was also awarded the Iron Buffalo Award two years in a row (2009 and 2010) and in 2010 was the co-recipient of the Greg Biekert Award given for attention to detail. Solder has performed well in the classroom and was a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete in 2010, one of just 16 athletes named as such. He was named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a first team AP All-American as a senior. He was one of the three finalists for the Outland Trophy given annually to the nation's top interior lineman.
Potential NFL Team, Round
Solder has been pegged as a potential target of the Dallas Cowboys with the ninth pick. The Cowboys need a tackle and if Solder is rated as the best available by the Dallas front office, he could be the pick even if the Cowboys don't traditionally look the way of offensive linemen in the first round. There are plenty of teams who could use an upgrade to their offensive line and several could look Solder's way, especially if he has a good Combine. As a very athletic tackle, he should do just that and climb up a few draft boards. Other potential first round homes include the Minnesota Vikings at 12, New York Giants at 19, Indianapolis Colts at 22, Philadelphia Eagles at 23, Atlanta Falcons at 27 or even the Pittsburgh Steelers at 31 or 32 pending the results of the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots may also look to upgrade the offensive line and possess two picks: the 17th and 28th overall selections.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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