Overview: Steve Vallos received a crash course in training camp on playing center. He started the first three preseason games at center and received praise from Seattle's coaching staff. After Chris Spencer was lost for the season in week 12, Vallos started the final five games of the regular season. He had one false start and no holding penalties.
What went right: Vallos stepped up and played a position he was inexperienced at and never suffered the kind of automatic-benching meltdown he was entirely capable of. And by season's end, he was no longer an abject liability at center.
What went wrong: Vallos was overmatched in the preseason and then abused in his first two regular season games. He looked unfit for the speed or power of the game. He was a turnstile against Dallas. So bad it's a wonder Seattle mounted any offense at all. His play leveled off and eventually Vallos wasn't single-handedly undermining Seattle's offense, just interspersing poor play with ineffectual play.
Outlook: The Cult of Vallos started because of poor reading comprehension. It was fed by an irrational dislike of Chris Spencer. Mike Holmgren said Vallos was doing very well considering the circumstances. The circumstances were a hobbled Chris Spencer and a lower back injury that put Chris Gray at risk of paralysis. The circumstances were that Vallos played all five line positions at Wake Forest, all five except center. The circumstances were that Seattle was unprepared for the loss of Gray and Spencer, and Vallos was doing yeoman's work at a position he didn't know. That's being a team player* and that's respectable and one understands why the coaches singled him out for praise. No one thought he was performing well.
Seattle graded Vallos with their actions drafting Max Unger in the second round and preempting any notion of Vallos ever starting. Unger or Spencer will man center for the foreseeable future. If Unger doesn't secure a starting guard spot, he would automatically become the second string center and likely doom Vallos to being cut. Long ago when he was drafted, I was a fan of Steve Vallos. I like accomplished college tackles moving inside and playing a less demanding line position. A player can be marginally athletic at tackle and adequate or above average at guard or center, but you gotta be strong. Vallos isn't. He's not real football big despite his listed weight, and as a center he withstands the bullrush like a tackle. If Vallos isn't a Hawk, there are rosters yet for him to be signed to and cut from. Maybe he grows into his body and has a nice little career. There's a coaching career somewhere should he want it. My antipathy for the guy got a little out of hand because of the backup-quarterback treatment he was getting from some fans, but as far as seventh round selections go, I think Vallos will be a success.
*The counterargument is that Vallos might not have made the team had he not stuck at center.