The Patriots are expected to be one of the most active NFL teams in the 2011 draft, and they used their 17th pick in the first round to select Colorado tackle Nate Solder.

New England's selection comes at a bit of a surprise to fans, but Solder is a player that can definitely develop into one of the better tackles in the league in coming years. The left tackle was originally recruited as a tight end, but took to his role on the offensive line at Colorado, and was named First Team All-American in 2010.

The Buena Vista, Colo., native was also named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2010 and allowed just five sacks in his three years as a starter.

Solder made the switch from tight end to tackle in the spring after his freshman season, and started every game of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons protecting the blind side for right-handed quarterbacks. He earned All-Big 12 honors in his junior and senior seasons with the Buffaloes.

Keep up with all the draft action on the NFL Draft live blog.

Click here to learn more about Solder's fit with the Patriots.