Kraft: Solder 'a team guy all the way'

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Kraft: Solder 'a team guy all the way'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; If we didnt learn enough about Nate Solder during Thursdaynights conference call, the Patriots 2011 first-round pick was presented tothe media at Gillette Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Solder walked from the tunnel to an elevated stage at the50-yard line with Robert and Jonathan Kraft. A personalized Patriots jersey wasthen presented to the offensive tackle.

It was then that Robert Kraft told a story that, in a way,summed up what Solder is all about.

Every year, when we come down, I say, Give me a story that I can tell the mediathat we chatted about,' said Kraft. ' Whats special about this connection? AndNate said, Well, in my name, Solder, theres no I. Im a team guy all theway. So that just says it all.

Solder had a 6 a.m. flight this morning, and said that hesbeen living by the minute since he got that phone call from the Patriots onThursday night.

As sleep deprived as he was, Solder wasnt hiding the factthat he was everything a typical New England Patriot stands for. He proclaimedhimself a team guy that leads by example.

By the time everything got wrapped up last night, afterbeing drafted, its been a pretty long day for me, said Solder. I flew outhere, and meeting these coaches, and meeting these owners, has been a realhonor and privilege.

Ive always been rooting for the Patriots, because theyvehad a lot of great years. It hasnt been hard to be a fan of the Patriots.

I think Mr. Kraft was the one that kind of pointed out the impressiverecord that they have here at this stadium, he said. So that was the firstthought that came to mind. They win a lot of games here. They do things righthere.

Solder said he realizes he has a lot of things to improveupon, but wouldnt touch on any specific area, comparing it to adjusting to thecollege game, coming out of high school.

Ive never really paid too much attention to analysts,said Solder. Ive always felt that Im a strong, powerful player, but I alwayshave things to develop and get better at.

Its safe to say that he wont have to improve his huntingskills. Not because hes a great hunter, but because there isnt much huntingin Massachusetts.

Solder had traveled miles and miles while in Colorado, tohunt for elk. But in his hunting career, hes only shot 1 elk, and it happenedto be just a few miles away from his house.

Its funny, because I probably have been hunting for about10 or 15 years, chasing after elk, and Ive only shot one, joked Solder. Sothat tells you how good of a hunter I am, I guess.

And forget football and hunting, Solder nearly playedbasketball in college, at the Dartmouth College. But luckily for him and thePatriots, he choose to stay in Colorado and play football.

I chose football as the route that I would take, saidSolder. And Im so glad that I did, because it was a great five years atColorado, and I love the sport, and Im happy to be here today.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Patriots select Arizona State WR Lucien in seventh round

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Patriots select Arizona State WR Lucien in seventh round

The Patriots haven't had a ton of success drafting wide receivers in recent years, but one of their few home runs came in the seventh round back in 2009. 

No one will expect Devin Lucien to produce at the same level as Julian Edelman, but if he can provide the Patriots with some measure of depth after being selected with the No. 225 pick overall on Saturday -- the team's final pick of the draft -- it would be considered good value. 

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder transferred from UCLA to Arizona State for his final collegiate season when he recorded 66 catches for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns. In his last three games, he racked up 534 yards and five scores, firmly establishing himself as a draftable prospect. 

Pro Football Focus game Lucien a third-round grade going into the draft and said he "may have the best hands" in the class. According to PFF, he dropped just five passes in the last two seasons. 

Though he has good size and he tested well at his pro day (4.42-second 40-yard dash), he's considered to have underwhelming speed. Still, given his collegiate numbers and his dependable 10-inch mitts, he was certainly worth a flier late on Day 3. 

Lucien joins Malcolm Mitchell of Georgia (fourth-round) as the two receiver prospects selected by the Patriots in this year's draft class. The pair will compete for time with veterans Juilan Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Keshawn Martin, Nate Washington and second-year wideout Chris Harper. 

Patriots add pair with special-teams relevance in late rounds

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Patriots add pair with special-teams relevance in late rounds

The Patriots added a good-sized safety from Jimmy Garoppolo’s alma mater in the seventh round, Kamu Grunier-Hill. The 6-1, 215-pounder from Eastern Illinois selected with the 208th pick will have his first relevance as a special teamer then will try to find a spot in the regular defense.

With his size, he figures to be a who can play some box-safety when the Patriots go to six DB sets. He’ll do well to keep an eye on Patrick Chung because Chung – a much smaller player – is very skilled playing at the linebacker level. Grunier-Hill has great measurable – a 4.45 40 and 38.5 inch vertical.

The Patriots are deep at safety with Devin McCourty, Chung, Jordan Richards and Duron Harmon. Grunier-Hill wasn’t a highly-analyzed prospect in the process leading up to the draft so the Patriots’ interest level in him may have been higher than most. It’s very likely he finds his way to the team’s practice squad.

Right after taking Grunier-Hill, the Patriots got a similar-sized player named Elandon Roberts at 214. The 6-foot, 235-pounder comes in as a linebacker out of the University of Houston. He’s not the explosive athlete that Grunier-Hill is but he’s a hugely productive player who had 88 solo tackles for the Cougars last season. Regarded as a great leader, Roberts is another guy who’s going to have to make hay as a special teams guy first.