Nate Solder is a fascinating offensive tackle from Colorado. Solder posses unusual height (6'9), which is real valuable, because players with that kind of height have long arms, which is great for controlling ends in pass protection. A former tight end, Solder is about as skinny looking as someone can be at 300lbs, because of all that height, and he will need to bulk up to maybe 315 if he wants a long NFL career. Solder possesses a lot of physical upside not only because of his length, but because his outstanding athleticism. Solder runs an excellent 4.81 40 yard dash, which gives him outstanding upside as a pass blocker.
Solder possesses excellent strength and intensity as a run blocker. Considering how lean he really is, Solder's strength in driving defenders off the ball is unusual, but outstanding. Solder not only possesses great toughness, but a strong work ethic to do whatever possible to help his team win. Solder also has outstanding awareness, taking outstanding angles to defenders on the run and consistently keeping his head on a swivel in pass protection. Overall, Solder is among the most productive run blockers in all of college football.
Solder's main drawback is his production in pass protection. Though Solder has upside as a pass protector, he doesn't seem to show the same mental toughness in pass protection as he does when run blocking, and he is much less productive. I have only scouted him heavily in one game (I have scouted him in others, but this flaw really jumped out against me in this game); it was last year's game against Texas A&M. In that game, he allowed 2 sacks by Von Miller, and he let Von Miller pressure Cody Hawkins many times in the game. His lack of production as a pass blocker is consistently because of one thing; he just can keep his butt down. As I mentioned before, Solder is tall. Really, really, tall. When blocking a shorter end or linebacker, like Von Miller (6'2), Solder stands up almost completely straight. Blocking someone seven inches shorter than you is very awkward, unless you get low. By not squatting in pass protection, Solder grabs the top of Miller's shoulder pads; his thumbs might touch Miller's neck; which is a very awkward, unconventional, and inefficient method in pass protection. Miller does a good job of staying low, so it's easy for him to get under Solder's hands and all the way to the quarterback. So his excellent length actually causes him issues in pass protection simply because he can't stay low. If he can stay low in pass protection, not only will he be able to use his hands in a much more conventional manner, but, being as tall as he is, he will have to squat even lower in pass protection in comparison to other lineman to get all the way down the the rusher. Squatting extra low will make his knees bend farther out, which will help him create an extremely wide base in pass protection, which will add even more benefits to his excellent height.
Here are some highlights of Solder:
Nate Solder vs. Missouri
Nate Solder vs. California
Overall Solder is an unbelievable physical specimen, but one that will take much time to develop. Personally, I am pretty high on Solder because I believe he has the work ethic to improve the flaws in his game. And he already has the natural tools to be an extremely productive tackle at the NFL level. Whoever drafts Solder will know it's a risky pick, but I think he has the work ethic to make it a rewarding one.
Comparison: A taller, but more raw Eric Winston