More and more NFL rookies are expected to contribute early in their careers. However, for them to make an impact they need to beat out a veteran player. We are going to analyze the situation of specific rookies and determine the likely hood of them winning a position battle.
Player: Nate Solder
Team: New England Patriots
Position: Offensive tackle
Chance of winning the battle: 25 percent
Thoughts: The Patriots continued their strategy of stock piling draft picks which has allowed them to select players with more long term value. Solder was arguably one of the best tackle prospects in the draft with great size and ability. He tested very well and is one of the more athletic tackles to go through the draft process.
New England is not hurting at the tackle position as both Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer are above average players. The biggest issue with this position is health and depth which likely led to the selection of Solder. Light has struggled to stay healthy and at age 32 might be on the downside of his career. The Patriots have done a good job planning ahead and preparing for the inevitable. Vollmer is only 26 years old and has a long term future on this team but he looks to be limited to the right side of the line.
Solder has a ton of potential but he is raw and needs time to develop. This situation will provide him with sometime to learn and refine his technique. However, his athletic ability will permit him to step in and hold his own if there was an injury. It is very unlikely that Solder begins the season as a starter and won't crack the lineup unless there is an injury to either Light or Vollmer.