The Patriots were sitting pretty at No. 17.
With glaring needs on defense, especially for a pass rusher, Cal's Cameron Jordan was on the board, who would fit into the defense well with his versatility. Then there's offensive line, where Boston College grad Anthony Castonzo, arguably the second best tackle in this draft, was still available. Alabama RB Mark Ingram, who lots of people have connected to New England, was sitting in the green room.
Or the team could have gone value by taking CB Prince Amukamara, a bit of a surprise but someone who could challenge right away to play opposite Devin McCourty, and one of the best players on the board.
But the Patriots went with potential by taking Colorado's Nate Solder, a guy who could be a long-term option at either tackle spot with Matt Light's future uncertain.
The Patriots must be very high on Solder to take him with more sure things on the board. Solder is extremely athletic and played tight end earlier in his football career. What the Pats like about Solder is that he doesn't need to play right away, but has the tools to be the tackle of the future opposite Sebastian Vollmer.
Solder has plenty of upside, and Bill Belichick clearly likes that potential, not to mention his ability to play either tackle position, because there are some questions about Vollmer's ability moving to the blind side. PFW draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki wrote that among Solder's positives is that he has "outstanding character ... unselfish, business-like, coachable, team player."
Does that scream Patriots or what?
If Light stays for a year or two, Solder can learn from one of the best tackles in the game. The Patriots didn't go value at 17 and they didn't necessarily go need, but they found a guy that could be a very good tackle protecting Tom Brady down the line.
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