After plenty of rumors and speculation surrounding a potential trade to get into the top-10 of the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots held pat (get it??), and used the No. 17 overall pick to take Nate Solder, an offensive lineman out of Colorado.
The Patriots also had the No. 28 overall pick Thursday night, but that one they opted to trade away, sending it to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for their second round pick this year (No. 56 overall) and the Saints' first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft; New Orleans used the pick to take Alabama RB Mark Ingram.
In all, the Pats left the first day of the 2011 NFL Draft with a left tackle for the future, plus a couple more picks. But why Solder, especially when both Gabe Carimi and BC's Anthony Castonzo were both still available? Turns out Bill Belichick had some inside information (via Pats Pulpit):
When Strength and Conditioning coach Mike Woicik left at the end of the season, the Patriots hired Moses Cabrera to be the new assistant to the promoted Harold Nash. Cabrera was the strength and conditioning coach at Fresno State from 2004-09 and he actually spent the entire 2010 season as the strength and conditioning coach for Colorado. It turns out that the Patriots were able to learn about Solder without revealing their interest to the other teams.
The Patriots didn't meet with Solder until this past Monday, when offensive line coach Dante Scarneccia ran him through some basic drills. It seems that Cabrera's information helped the Patriots make this extremely important draft pick.
For more the New England Patriots and their draft, head over to Pats Pulpit. And for all things 2011 NFL Draft related, from the first pick to Mr. Irrelevant and everything in between, check out SB Nation's 2011 NFL Draft Hub and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking The Draft.