Patriots first-round draft pick Nate Solder visited Gillette Stadium and received a jersey from team owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft.
“Every year when we come down [to meet the draftees], I say, ‘Give me a story that I can tell media we chatted about. What’s special about this connection?’ And Nate said, ‘In my name, S-O-L-D-E-R, there’s no ‘I’. I’m a team guy all the way. That just says it all. We’re happy to introduce out first-round draft pick, Nate Solder,” Kraft said.
Solder said he wanted to compete for a job on the offensive line.
“I’ve always been a guy who is about competition. I think competition makes everyone better. I came here to compete for a position and that’s what I plan on doing,” he said.
Click the Full Entry button for the complete Q&A with Solder, provided by the Patriots’ media relations department.
Q: What’s your day been like so far?
NS: Well, I had a 6 a.m. flight this morning. So after everything got wrapped up last night when I got drafted, it’s been a pretty long day for me. I flew out here and meeting these coaches and others has been a real privilege.
Q: Did you get much sleep?
NS: You know, I’m extremely excited and maybe a little bit restless. But it’s simple, you have to fall asleep.
Q: Has it been a whirlwind experience?
NS: You know, right after I got the phone call from the Patriots, it just kind of went crazy after that. So yeah, it’s been kind of a whirlwind.
Q: [On competing for a position on the offensive line…]
NS: I’ve always been a guy who is about competition. I think competition makes everyone better. I came here to compete for a position and that’s what I plan on doing.
Q: What are your impressions of the organization?
NS: I’ve always held this place in really high regard. I have a ton of respect for the players and for Mr. Kraft and what he’s built here and this is an amazing place. I would not rather be any other place in the world, actually.
Q: Have you ever spent time in this area?
NS: Very briefly, but no, I’ve never spent any time here.
Q: What were you here for?
NS: The Walter Camp All-American Banquet.
Q: I imagine you grew up as a Broncos fan, have you switched allegiance?
NS: Oh, it’s very easy to switch. Yes, I’m very happy to be here and I’ve always been rooting the Patriots because there have have been a lot of great years. It hasn’t been hard to be a fan of the Patriots.
Q: Have you heard from a lot of people that you haven’t heard from in a while?
NS: A few, but I always try to respect that and I always try to connect with the people that I care about, too.
Q: Are you a little nervous about meeting the players?
NS: No, it’s a great group of players and I have tremendous respect for every single one of them. There might be a few nerves meeting the whole group of them, but no, there’s not one in particular.
Q: What about Tom Brady?
NS: He’s a great player as all the other guys are. I’m excited to meet all of them.
Q: What do you like most about playing left tackle?
NS: It’s a huge responsibility – protecting the quarterback, being able to run the ball. And that’s something that I always loved. I always love a challenge.
Q: Describe the players you have played against in college.
NS: Yeah, the Big-12 had a lot of different guys like that. Absolutely. There was a lot of speed. You know, I played against Von Miller, who was drafted No. 2 last night. There were several other guys [who had] power. Brian Orakpo, he was a power guy, and I played against him. So, I’ve face numerous types of pass rushers.
Q: [On the level of competition he saw in college…]
NS: Oh yeah. Like I said, the Big-12 is a real competitive league, and we saw it all.
Q: At this stage of your career what would you say are your strength and weaknesses?
NS: Kind of like coming out of high school, there are a lot of things that you are going to develop and get better at. And I think I have a lot of things to get better at. The great thing about being here is there are such great coaches with coach [Dante] Scarnecchia and coach [Bill] Belichick. And I look forward to the opportunity to get better.
Q: Who have you met with so far?
NS: I’ve met with a number of people. I’ve met with the Krafts. I’ve met a couple of the coaches here.
Q: Have you met Coach Belichick?
NS: I met Belichick, yes I did.
NS: No, I haven’t met any players.
Q: As you look around this facility and as you walk through, what are your thoughts?
NS: I think Mr. Kraft was the one who pointed out the impressive record that they have here at this stadium, so that was the first thought to come to mind is they win a lot of games here. They do things right here.
Q: Do you have a number in mind that you would like to wear?
NS: No, you know, I’ve always been happy with whatever, in that I’m not caught on my number. I’m a team guy, so that doesn’t make a difference to me really.
Q: On being a captain…
NS: Well, I was always a lead by example guy, but along with that, I was a leader where there was a need. And so this last, past season at Colorado, there was a a need for me to be a little more vocal, and that’s kind of the way I stepped up and was doing that, too.
Q: With the uncertainty of the CBA there is a lot of uncertainty, how do you have a lot of optimism?
NS: I’m ecstatic to be here in New England. I don’t know what’s going to happen with any of that. I couldn’t tell you one way or the other. I think it’s changing all the time. I’m here to play football, and I’ll do whatever they tell me to do.
Q: Do you have your own playbook?
NS: No, I don’t.
Q: Any comment on the concerns from scouts and analysts from the combine?
NS: I’ve never really paid too much attention to analysts. I’ve always felt that I’m a strong, powerful player, but I always have things to develop and get better at.
Q: What are you interested in outside of football?
NS: I’m interested in the environment and things like that. I hope that I can continue to do that. I don’t know exactly what my plans are going to end up being right now. I’m a football player and that’s my first priority. So, I haven’t though too much about that yet.
Q: Tell me about the elk hunt.
NS: I have shot one elk. And it’s funny because I’ve probably been hunting for about 10 or 15 years chasing after elk, and I’ve only shot one, so that tells you how good of a hunter I am, I guess.
Q: Is it difficult to sneak up on them because you’re 6’8”?
NS: No, it’s not easy, but people do better than that.
Q: Is it hard to sneak up on an elk when you’re 6’ 8’’?
NS: Maybe that’s what’s holding me back – I’m too tall.
Q: Hunts can take all day, is it hard to stand that long?
NS: The one that I shot was out – it’s kind of a funny story because I’ve traveled miles to the mountains to try to find these elk, and the one that I shot was about two miles away from my house in a field. It was not a very adventurous story, but I was happy to shoot it though, nonetheless.
Q: How big was it?
NS: I don’t even know how you would quantify. It was a cow, so it didn’t have antlers or anything.
Q: You happen to see that your college teammate, Jimmy Smith, got drafted in the first round?
NS: I’m very happy for Jimmy, yeah. That’s an awesome thing for Jimmy.
Q: Have you spoke with him?
NS: No, I haven’t.
Q: [On the quarterbacks he has played with…]
NS: I’ve kind of had both, and having a smart quarterback makes a big difference.
Q: What is the biggest thing you have to work on?
NS: Someone asked that, and the same answer I’m going to give you is there are a lot of things that I need to improve on. The thing that I’m so happy about is that I have such great coaches here to improve on those things.
Q: What’s next? How long are you here?
NS: Well, I’m kind of going five minutes at a time here. They tell me to go here, I go there. They tell me go there, you know. So, five minutes at a time. I’m not even sure what the schedule is at this point.
Q: Did you work with a fairly complex playbook?
NS: I wouldn’t say it was simple, but I don’t know how complex it was. It’s hard to say.
Q: At what point did you decide you wanted to pursue football full time?
NS: Well, I almost played basketball in college, too. That would’ve been at Dartmouth. I chose football as the route that I would take, and I’m so glad that I did because it was a great five years. And I love the sport. And I’m happy to be here today, where I am today.
Q: Did you get a scholarship?
NS: Dartmouth doesn’t have athletic scholarships.
Q: Who was the coach at Dartmouth?
NS: At Dartmouth? Dawn, is that right? Prince? Prince, that’s what it was. Robert Prince. I don’t know. I’m sorry, I don’t know.
Q: Do you like the type of oxygen down here?
NS: Yeah, this is quite a bit different from the top of the mountain that I’m from. It’s nice.
Q: [On Colorado’s mediocre record…]
NS: Well, we play it up as if that were the case. Our record wouldn’t suggest that though.