Drafted in the 4th round by the Miami Dolphins in 2007, Paul Soliai has made a nice career out of being a pure nose tackle. Dave Gettleman signed Soliai on March 15th to a two year contract. According to Spotrac, Soliai’s deal is 2 years for $7,000,000 and $3,000,000 guaranteed in the first year. Soliai has a massive frame. He stands at 6’4″ and 345 pounds. Soliai is 32 years old, so time is working against him. He acknowledged his age concerns after he signed, but he is still an effective player.
Soliai is not considered an efficient pass rusher, but he does exhibit some traits that will help the Carolina Panthers.
This play might not look like much, but it’s the exact reason why players such as Kawann Short and Luke Kuechly have success on blitzes. Soliai’s ability to hold his ground and occupy two blockers will allow Short or any other 3T to win one on one versus guards. The Panthers have had great success with their A Gap blitz calls and this play will give Kuechly a free alley to the quarterback.
Again, this isn’t a play that will go on the stat sheet. However, it’s important in the context of the Panthers defense. Sean McDermott calls a variety of blitzes and stunts to confuse the defense. Soliai understands how to properly execute a stunt. He attacks the outside shoulder of the center and pushes him back into the guard. That essentially allows the DE to loop around for a stunt through the A gap.
Now there are also examples of Soliai’s quality as a pass rusher. Here he is matched up with Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl Center, Travis Frederick. Soliai immediately confuses Frederick as he attacks him through the opposite A Gap. He moves Brandon Weeden off his spot and Weeden moves outside the pocket, which led to an interception.
More often than not, Soliai won’t give you the same pass rushing traits as Star Lotulelei. He often attacks too high and that causes him to instantly lose the leverage battle.