Nate Solder Might Be Patriots' Perfect Answer at Tackle If the Patriots are focused on adding a tackle in this draft, there might be a tailor-made prospect waiting for them in the bottom third of the first round.

Colorado’s Nate Solder is a developmental project who could use some grooming, but his long-term potential would be worth the investment. Plus, it would open the door for the Patriots to stick with Matt Light for another contract.

Key Stats
The 6-foot-8, 319-pounder played in every single snap last season and was Colorado’s team captain and MVP, as well as a consensus All-American. Solder only allowed five sacks in 1,400 called passing plays during three seasons as a starter, according to his Colorado bio.

Why the Patriots Would Want Him
Solder is a physical specimen who could grow into an elite tackle if he can match his skill with his size, and he is very athletic. He’s also a bit of a development project, having gone to Colorado as a tight end, so the Patriots would benefit by drafting Solder and letting him sit behind Light and Sebastian Vollmer for a little while. Because of that, the Patriots probably wouldn’t ruffle Light’s feathers by asking him to return for another season or two because the depth chart would remain solidified. Solder is also said to be a very good, well-rounded person who would fit the Patriots’ persona.

Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
It should be a red flag that an All-American tackle of Solder’s size isn’t a candidate to go in the top 10 (more on that below), so what’s the issue here? Analysts believe Solder struggles too often with better pass rushers, and that would be alarming in the AFC East. Also, Solder only had 21 bench press reps at the combine, and that’s a huge alarm.

Potential Impact in 2011
Since Solder is still a developmental project, they’d be best served to retain Light, which seems like a pretty good possibility anyway. Therefore, Solder wouldn’t make an impact unless there was an injury.

What The Locals Are Saying
Solder had a career-defining choice to make early in his collegiate career.

Where Can the Patriots Expect to Draft Solder?
Solder is typically considered to be the fifth best tackle in the draft, so he’ll be off the board at some point in the 20s. If the Patriots really want him, they’ll probably have to move up a few spots because there are seven teams that could potentially take a tackle between picks 18-27.

Every day through April 28, will spotlight one player the Patriots could draft with one of their first three picks.

Friday, April 1: California defensive end Cameron Jordan 
Saturday, April 2: North Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Quinn
Sunday, April 3: Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward
Monday, April 4: Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones 

Tuesday, April 5: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara 
Wednesday, April 6: Alabama running back Mark Ingram 
Thursday, April 7: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo 
Friday, April 8: Florida interior lineman Mike Pouncey 
Saturday, April 9: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi 
Sunday: April 10: Georgia defensive end/outside linebacker Justin Houston
Monday, April 11: Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers 

Tuesday, April 12: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt 
Wednesday, April 13: UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers 
Thursday, April 14: USC tackle Tyron Smith
Friday, April 15: Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor 

Saturday, April 16: Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod 
Sunday, April 17: Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith 
Monday, April 18: Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure
Tuesday, April 19: Villanova offensive lineman Benjamin Ijalana
Wednesday, April 20: Temple defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson
Thursday, April 21: Purdue defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan
Friday, April 22: Pittsburgh wide receiver Jon Baldwin
Sunday April 24: Baylor Guard Danny Watkins

Photo via Flickr/Monica’s Dad