One of the positions that seems to go back and forth in terms of who is on top is the offensive ta..."/>

One of the positions that seems to go back and forth in terms of who is on top is the offensive ta..."/>

Scouting Report: Colorado Offensive Tackle Nate Solder


One of the positions that seems to go back and forth in terms of who is on top is the offensive tackle position heading into the 2011 NFL Draft. While an offensive tackle will likely not be selected at the top of this draft overall, this position has some solid prospects in USC’s Tyron Smith, Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod, and Colorado’s Nate Solder.  This scouting report focuses on Solder, a player who in my opinion, had a very solid combine and has the potential to be a top 15 pick. A co-captain during his 2010 senior season at Colorado, Solder started all 12 games for the Buffaloes and was awarded the Zack Jordan Award as Colorado’s most valuable player. He was also named a finalist for the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation’s best interior offensive or defensive linemen as voted by the Football Writers Association of America. Here is a closer look at Solder in terms of what he does best and some of his flaws.


Long Arms

Solder’s 35 and ½ inch arms definitely have to give him an advantage heading into the NFL. Many times you will see an offensive linemen with shorter arms have trouble against the bull rush and speed moves by a defender because he can’t extend as far and it gives in turn, gives the defender move leverage.  Solder absolutely used his long arms to his advantage during his college career. He does a great job of extending them and keeping the defender from getting inside his pads.

Controls the Defender When Engaged

When watching Solder on film in obvious passing situations, he was very impressive with his leverage against defenders. Defensive ends would often times try to bull rush him and try to push him back in the pocket but he would do a fantastic job of getting inside their pads and control them. Getting that kind of leverage on a defensive end or outside linebacker makes their pass rushing moves less effective and puts Solder in a good spot to protect his quarterback’s blind side.

Blocking in Space

Often times Solder was put out on an island versus a quicker defensive end in 3rd and longs and held his own. He does a great job of mirroring defenders who use a strong rush outside and try to beat him inside. I will be interested to see how much help his 2011 NFL team gives him when he faces quicker pass rushers and sees different blitz packages thrown his way. All I know is he did a great job blocking in space over his four-year career at Colorado.


Balance Against Speed

This is Solder’s most glaring weakness on tape. Against quicker defenders, he can get beat off the snap and does not have the lateral quickness to keep up. Defensive ends that have good acceleration use that to turn him and often use a quick move with their arms to get position on Solder and beat him. This has resulted in his quarterbacks taking hits from the blind side resulting in fumbles. Solder needs to improve his lateral quickness off the snap in order to counter the quickness of defensive ends and outside linebackers he will meet in the NFL.

Driving Defenders Off the Ball

When run blocking, Solder does a good job of getting leverage against defensive linemen and turning them to create holes for his running back. However, I would like to see him drive defenders off the line of scrimmage instead of turning them to give the back more space to run. Solder is a big guy at 6’8”, 319 lbs. and should have the advantage when engaged one on one with a defender when run blocking.

Use of Hands

This comes back to Solder’s problems with blocking quicker defensive ends off of the edge. While he is able to get leverage by getting inside the defender’s pads, sometimes they were able to use their arms to make a move and get position on Solder. I would like to see Solder improve his use of hands and use them to help counter those moves. He has ideal arm length for a tackle, now he needs to use his hands to make life difficult for defensive ends.

Projected Round: Mid 1st

NFL Comparison: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets