The New England Patriots have one of the best tackle duo in the NFL to protect Tom Brady with Nate Solder on the left side and Sebastian Vollmer on the right. Although Vollmer is the better of the two and deservedly gets most of the praise (either Vollmer or Anthony Davis of the San Francisco 49ers is the league’s best right tackle), Solder has turned into quite the player at left tackle. An incredibly athletic lineman, Solder excels as a screen blocker and is one of the best run blocking tackles in the NFL. After concerns regarding his pass protection coming out of his rookie year, Solder dispelled most of those with some very good pass pro in 2012, and he could make the jump to elite this season.
New England Patriots tackle Nate Solder (77) lines up against the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Solder is not somebody to be taken lightly, because he has all the tools and showed us all last season that he is indeed a top-level tackle in this league. He definitely isn’t elite yet, but he can get to that level in a matter of a season if everything falls into place. Solder is one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the league right now, and we’ll see if he can turn that into a top ten ranking.
Tom Brady understands how good Solder is and how important his ability at LT is to the entire New England Patriots offense. The star QB spoke quite a bit about Solder on Dennis and Callahan, “When he first got here, he was really the swing tackle behind Matt Light and Sebastian [Vollmer]. He played some tight end his first year. [He’s] surprisingly athletic, they put him at tight end his first year because we were light on tight ends at one point. I was throwing him passes and he kind of learned what to do.
“He’s always willing and able to do whatever Coach Belichick asks him to do and he’s really settled into the left tackle position last year and then continued through it this year. He’s been durable and reliable and really been a consistent player for us. We drafted him in the first round [in 2011] and he’s really done a great job.”
Solder certainly is a talented and reliable tackle in this league, but he does need to become a bit more consistent in pass protection if he wants to be regarded as an even better player. There aren’t many weaknesses in his game at this point, and it is about become a better pass blocker on the blind side and getting the finer details of the tackle position down.