Position Ranking: #3
Strengths: Impressive size and length for the left tackle position. Doesn’t carry much extra weight and shows an even amount of bulk in both his upper and lower body. Has good overall initial quickness and wins the snap consistently in run support to drive opponent off the ball in straight ahead blocking. Has the strength to consistently hook the defender and push down the line of scrimmage on angle blocks in run game.
Neutralizes linebackers with ease at the second level once he latches on. Very committed to technique in pass protect and maintains a short choppy set in his kick slide. His size can force the rusher to take a wide arc to the quarterback; arm length allows him to redirect pass rusher even if he loses the initial step. Proper lower body technique and strength give him the ability to maintain his base even when jolted back on a power rush. Smart and plays with good awareness and discipline; won’t incur many false start or holding penalties. Overall footwork is good for his size and length.
Needs Improvement: Doesn’t get great depth on his initial kick release; continues to work on it. Has trouble picking up quick, slanting defensive lineman on an inside rush. Won’t always play over his pads with balance, loses technique and overextends in both run support and pass protect at times. Has trouble with quick pulls to the inside and won’t always get there before the defender to open a running lane. Needs to anchor against the pass rush quicker, tends to get too deep in his footwork, causing the quarterback to reset in the pocket. Doesn’t recoil his arms quickly once extended. Recovery speed is only adequate.
Bottom Line: Nate Solder should immediately become one of the biggest tackles in the NFL at 6’9 315 pounds. He offers a good overall skill set with a strong commitment to technique consistency. His size can be a detriment at times however, as I noticed that he had trouble maintaining proper bend throughout the entire game. His height won’t always allow him to get lower than the man across from him and consistent leverage seemed to be a problem in space and along the edge. Solder did improve noticeably in his technique application as the season progressed, and showed that he could handle talented pass rushers by adjusting his technique. I feel Solder has enough athleticism and footwork to be a left tackle (coupled with his arm length) but may be best suited at right tackle, at least to begin his career.
Draft Projection: 1st round.