A finesse left tackle that shows good technique and footwork. Uses his hands well with good placement and does a nice job initiating contact with defender and locking on. Does a nice job finishing his blocks. Has pop off the snap as a run blocker and flashes potential as a drive blocker due to his ability to lock on. Gets into his set fairly quickly and shows ability to get out on the second level and get the seal block. Shows ability to get the backside cut block, showing potential and ability to perform in a zone-blocking scheme. Has enough mobility to be an effective puller.
Doesn't have the quickest feet and struggles against speed rushers, particularly when he's facing a 3-4 OLB like Von Miller. Will get too deep at times, and give up the inside move too easily. Will open his stance too early at times when facing speed. Despite good hand placement, doesn't have a strong hand punch and can be beat around the corner with a decent swim move. Height can be a factor because he'll block too high. Can be bull-rushed off the edge because of his height allowing defenders to get under his pads. Height also limits how effective he is as a run blocker, not able to take the best angles. Spends a bit too much time on the ground because he doesn't have great base or strong lower body. Has a pencil-thin build. Is better when he's covered up by a tight end, which means he might project better to the right side.
Solder is a sort of hard prospect to evaluate because he isn't anywhere close to where he should be in terms of his build. He's listed at 6'9" 305, and there's just no way that at such a low weight he can be expected to compete at the next level. Even to play in a zone-blocking scheme, with his frame, he's going to need to be at least around 325 pounds. So with his tall frame, he's a player that is going to need to put on anywhere between 20-30 pounds before he can be expected to compete at the next level. And I think with that added muscle, many of his flaws and weaknesses will diminish. He'll be able to make up for some of that lack of foot speed with strength and muscle, and could be a much better run blocker. He has some of the more polished technique I've seen of any collegiate offensive tackle. The only junior that immediately leaps to mind that might have been more polished is Jake Long. If he had more of a killer mean streak, I would like his chances at the next level a lot more. He's not going to be a top NFL offensive tackle even with the added weight. He's good enough to be an NFL starter, but at best he's probably as good as Jeff Backus at left tackle or Marc Colombo on the right side. But he's the type of player that until he bulks up and gets comfortable with that added weight, he's not going to be a starter. And that's more than likely at least two years away. Teams should target him more as a developmental left tackle rather than a guy that can come in right away and upgrade the position.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE IN 2010:
I'm not sure how realistic it is, but I would love to see him have put on at least 10 pounds this off-season so that his frame is a little more filled out. There isn't a lot of technique work he needs other than improving his hand punch. He also needs to do a better job not giving up the inside move. There is room for improvement as far as technique goes, but he's already so far ahead of the curve that if it doesn't improve, it's not going to be an issue. But the main thing is I want to see if he's bigger and stronger and see how much improvement I see with that. I'd like to see him match up a little better with the speed he sees in the Big 12 and see his matchups against the better pass rushers being a lot less one-sided. Lucky for him, Texas and Texas A&M aren't on the schedule, so he's probably not going to face a ton of potential elite-level pass rushers. But his outings against Georgia, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and possibly Texas Tech appear to be his biggest challenges.
Because of his ability and potential to play left tackle, Solder's stock can be raised. But at best, I would expect him to be a second round pick. But more than likely, he's a third or fourth round pick that won't be more highly valued next year than players like Jared Veldheer (69th overall) or Jason Fox (128th overall) were this past April. He's just not ready to compete right away and that's unlikely to change over the course of the next 10 months.
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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