We'll see if the Broncos intend their newest center to compete for the starting job, but in the meantime, we'll take a look ourselves.
My scouting report is limited in the fact that going back to 2009, he only had a couple of starts at center. Both in 2011/2012 as a backup, Vallos played guard. This tells us that for at least the last couple of years, he was more of a utility backup lineman even though his pedigree is more that of a true center.
With these notes and impressions, absorb the information with the following caveats:
1) It is only one game worth of information therefore the sample size is very small
2) It was more difficult to get a sense of his run blocking as his team played from behind the entire game
3) I didn't have the requisite view to accurately assess his footwork so I will avoid this topic as much as possible
The game in question goes back to 2009, week 4 or 5 against the San Francisco 49ers. I will break things down in short bullet points with both the positives (+) and negatives (-) that I saw.
+ Was making line calls from the very first snap
+ Keeps a balanced frame
+ Was never overpowered
+ Diagnosed an interior stunt quickly and picked up the correct rusher
+ Was quick to identify which guard to help block
+ Jabs pretty good and gets good hand placement
- A couple of snaps Vallos was fooled by a DT dropping into coverage---was late to move over and help
- Snapped the ball over the QB's head once, cost the team 20 yards of field position and resulted in a punt
I was pretty impressed with his pass blocking. At times he was also able to angle a power rusher off to the side away from the middle passing lanes. He is quick to get into his stance and every line call I saw him make allowed the QB ample time to throw the football.
Curiously, the Niners failed to bring consistent blitzing and pressure from the middle so I don't have a good enough feel as to how Vallos would handle those situations. On one play, the Niners lined up in a psycho front and brought a fire blitz but Steve seemed to pick up the right man and the QB was able to hit a short comeback for a first down.
+ Seems to be a perfect fit for the ZBS
+ Executes tandem blocks and quickly gets to the 2nd level to take on another defender
+ registered one pancake block
+ No issues with muffed snaps under center
- Has a trouble with hand placement and balance on the move, was overpowered a couple of times when moving laterally to the line of scrimmage
- LB's and defenders on the 2nd level were able to disengage his hands pretty easily once he got there
- He will have trouble in general with DT who are more active with their hands as he is a bit slow/lazy with re-placement (2nd attempt to engage after DT knocked his hands off)
Way too small a sample size but I did see evidence of faulty footwork and balance especially on the move. He is much better as a downhill run blocker than he is when moving laterally to the LOS. DT's had an easier time redirecting his momentum to put him off balance.
I liked how he identified blocks on the 2nd level but I also sense the lack of a killer instinct as I never really saw him engage a defender and continue to drive him once he got there.
My gut feeling tells me this guy would do ok if pressed into the starting lineup. I like the signing especially as a utility backup. From what I saw, his strengths in both pass blocking and in the ZBS makes him a decent fit here. Obviously this game is going back to 2009, so things might be a bit different now. I am confident enough to say that he is a better option right now than Blake or Saulsberry to back up Ramirez.
As far as challenging Ramirez for that starting role, I just don't have enough information right now to take a stand. Keep in mind that Ramirez has a significant advantage in knowing the system having already played in the Manning offense as a starter 2012. Vallos seemed like a smart player making correct line calls so it will just take a bit of time to catch up in that regard.
I fully expect that the Broncos signed him with a mind that he could push Manny even if Manny ends up being the Ram until J.D. Walton is healthy enough to return.
Vallos has a small tie to Alex Gibbs from his Seattle days. Gibbs and Vallos would have interacted at Seahawks TC in 2010. Vallos made it to the final cutdown before being waved by the team. H/T to Jeremy Bolander who pointed out the Gibbs/Vallos connection. With Gibbs aboard as a consultant, I wouldn't be surprised if he had a say in this signing.
That's all I have for now MHR, hopefully we don't see any more devastating injuries!