Instead, William Vlachos stepped up to start each of the past 27 games for the Tide at the pivot, proving during that time a worthy successor and an NFL prospect, in his own right.
Though shorter than scouts would prefer, Vlachos plays with the intelligence, toughness and technique scouts are looking for at the position. He uses his hands well to help with his natural leverage advantage and shows enough athleticism to block defenders at the second level.
Vlachos' lack of ideal measureables might result in a lower draft grade than befitting a three-year starter likely to earn significant post-season accolades this season. Unlike Caldwell (6-3, 309), whose size made him attractive to teams as a center and guard, Vlachos' will be limited to only center in the pros. Vlachos is, however, viewed by scouts as a legitimately draftable commodity and one who could join Caldwell (now the starting right guard for the Houston Texans) as steadying force in the middle for a pro club. He certainly won't wow you with his measureables or dominating blocks, but is a scrapper inside who could carve out a niche in the pros.
Pass Blocking: Good initial quickness off the snap. Steps to the defender and gets a solid initial punch, showing some lateral agility to mirror. Lack of height and average athleticism, overall make him susceptible, however, to swim moves. Utilizes his natural leverage advantage, but has only an average anchor. Heady player who makes the line calls. Recognizes twists and blitzes and reacts accordingly. Physical and aggressive. Looks to help out his teammates.
Run Blocking: Quick enough to turn and seal off defenders, creating a hole at the point of attack. Average strength for drive blocking, too often getting stood up. At his best blocking laterally, sliding left or right in tandem with his guards. Has only phone booth quickness, however, and is often left behind before leaving the tackle box. Keeps fighting, however, and will sometimes gets his hands outside of the pads, which will draw holding penalties at the next level. Good quickness in getting to the second level. Understands his assignment and shows at least average mobility in stalking and securing second level blocks.
Pulling/Trapping: Good lateral mobility to pull, though he isn't often asked to do so in this scheme. Slides easily, showing good balance laterally while working the block. Savvy trap blocker who seals effectively due to his quickness and good technique.
Initial Quickness: Good initial quickness on his snap and step. Relies on his start to turn and seal off defenders. Can surprise secondary blocking targets with how efficiently he gets to them.
DownField: One of his better roles. Gets to the second level quickly and has the strength to lock on, as well as the lateral agility to slide and seal. Only possesses short area quickness, however, and really has to lumber if attempting to go further than just a few yards. A bit inconsistent with his effort. Doesn't always finish his blocks with the nastiness you'd like.
Intangibles: Won the Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Award following spring practices in 2009 and the Paul Crane Offensive Lineman Award (over Seattle Seahawks' 2011 first round pick, OT James Carpenter) following the 2011 season... Appeared in the season opener of his true freshman season (Western Carolina), but was ultimately redshirted... Missed the 2010 spring practices after having undergone foot surgery... Returned to play all 13 games, earing second team All-SEC honors..."
Snaps and steps quickly off the line in the run game, exhibiting the ability to reach defenders initially off his frame and seal. Looks coordinated getting out to the second level as well. However, lacks ideal lower body strength when asked to handle defensive tackles at the point of attack.
Shoots his hands quickly and exhibits good initial hand placement. But, lacks the base strength to move defenders off the football and struggles to maintain balance through contact, leading to him being overwhelmed consistently into the backfield. Isn’t the type of lateral athlete his size would have you believe.
Struggles to create leverage for himself initially on contact in the pass game, lock out and slide his feet through the play. Is easy to disengage from laterally and doesn’t possess the kind of strength to consistently anchor or push his man past the pocket one-on-one.
He plays with good grit and will work till the whistle; just struggles to consistently keep the inside of the pocket clean because of his physical limitations. Is at his best working in tandem, keeps his head on swivel, passes off/picks up linemen well inside and does have a good feel for the game.
Impression: An undersized overachiever who plays hard and is rugged inside — just has too many physical limitations for me to give a draftable grade to."
Solid in pass protection — plays with a low base and can shuffle and slide in short area.
Has outstanding football character and is well-respected by teammates and coaches for his leadership, intelligence and toughness."
William Vlachos is not the type of player that is going to wow anyone athletically. He doesn't have great measurements nor will he run an impressive 40 time. What Vlachos lacks in athleticism he makes up for with his technically sound play. He is able to quickly snap the ball and get his hands up on the defender.
His hands are routinely inside allowing him to lock on and control. His lack of height actually works to his advantage as he easily attains leverage on the defender. His leverage coupled with his strong base allows him to anchor after contact. In the running game, Vlachos uses his heavy hands to control the defender and seal him from the play.
While Vlachos has a future in the NFL, it will be tough for an NFL team to fall in love with his skills. He is not going to stand out on game film or impress anyone in workouts. Vlachos isn't the most explosive player and struggles to move defenders off the line. He is more of a zone blocking fit because he can velcro and seal. His lack of athletic ability makes it difficult for him to be effective in space. Vlachos struggles to remain balanced and reach defenders in the 2nd level.
Even with his limitations, Vlachos has a future in the NFL. His technically sound play will allow him to make the necessary blocks. However, he will only be successful in the right system which limits his versatility. His lack of versatility will limit the interested teams.
Bold Statement: Vlachos will not be drafted early but will end up as a starting center in the NFL
Games Viewed: Arkansas ('10), LSU ('10), Auburn ('10), South Carolina ('10)
- Passing the eye test is going to be an issue for Vlachos as he is short and stocky
- He doesn't have great athleticism and isn't very fluid
- When in space, Vlachos will struggle to keep defenders in front of him
- His lack of height helps him stay low and get leverage
- He is able to snap the ball and get his hands up all in one motion
- That motion allows him to routinely get his hands inside the defender
- Vlachos is pesky and once he gets his hands on you its hard to disengage
- He always gets inside hands and does a good job staying low
- Vlachos has a natural bend
- His quickness off the ball helps overcome his lack of strength and athleticism
- He is a very good velcro player
- Vlachos looks to be a good fit for a zone blocking scheme
- He is going to move people off the line but can lock on, turn, and seal
- Faced top competition in SEC such has Nick Fairley and Drake Nevis."