Sometimes first-round picks pan out the way that NFL general managers want them to, and sometimes those players do not. There are other times in which it is hard to make heads or tails of these players. Such is the case with Nate Solder, who has been having an up-and-down season.
Solder started the season out very well, accumulating a +19.6 rating from the writers of Pro Football Focus (as of November 20). But his last few games have been very disappointing, particularly against the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns. The third-year left tackle has really struggled with his pass protection in these games, which is not good considering that is why Bill Belichick drafted Solder 17th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Solder’s struggles came against three pass rushers. Against Denver, he struggled to contain Von Miller, who posted two sacks and a handful of pressures on Tom Brady. Then against Cleveland, Solder struggled to contain both Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo. Sheard and Mingo recorded a sack apiece. That means that Solder has surrendered four sacks in his last three games.
Having a bad game against Miller is understandable, but surrendering a sack to both Sheard and Mingo is inexcusable for Solder. Those two are nowhere near Miller’s class when it comes to pass rushers. And Solder was drafted to be one of the best left tackles in the league which means that he is expected to hold the likes of Sheard and Mingo off the stat sheet.
It is hardly the end of Solder, but these last few games have to be a concern. With Rob Gronkowski out for the season, Patriots pass catchers are going to struggle to get open meaning that Solder will have to pass protect Brady for even longer now. He has to return to his early-season form or else Brady might be in some serious trouble.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.