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TCU Draft Profile: Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Big V made his mark on the field for TCU; will he do the same at the next level?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

HAL-uh-POO-lih-VAH-tee VIE-tie. Say it with me: HAL-uh-POO-lih-VAH-tee VIE-tie. Got it? I still have no idea how to properly spell his name, let alone say it - so thank goodness he has an easy nickname, Big V. And it fits so well. Vaitai is a BIG dude: all 6'6", 320 pounds of him.

A right tackle in 2014, Big V moved over to the left side in 2016, where he started 10 games and appeared in 12 of 13 contests on the season. Not elite athletically, as far as the pro game is concerned, Vaitai is a candidate to move to the guard position at the next level, but his measurables do compare favorably to other draft candidates like Shon Coleman of Auburn and Gerald Hawkins of LSU. He has good lateral quickness and is a great space eater in the run game, while also being savvy as a pass blocker and aware of what the defense is trying to do each play. Well coached from high school (at Haltom), through his years at TCU, Big V is a high IQ guy who rarely gets fooled on a play.

The concern for an outside lineman in the pro game is the speed of the athletes who rush off the edge for the defense. Without elite quickness or plus athleticism, Vaitai could be a target for the JJ Watt's and Von Millers of the world - guys who line up and just plain out-athlete you in the race to the QB. Because he isn't the fastest, or the strongest guy, in the pool, Vaitai is a strong candidate to move inside, where his size and smarts could make him a solid rotational player at either guard position.

Lance Zierlein, "Vaitai has been a full-time starter over the last two seasons for a successful TCU squad, but doesn’t have the plus athleticism to play left tackle or the hand strength and core power to start on the right side. Despite decent technique and football intelligence, may be too lacking in physical qualities to make the NFL leap."

With two years under his belt as a full time starter, and plenty of reps in both pass pro and as a run blocker, I think V has what it takes to succeed at the next level. He may be years away from being a starter, or never make it as more than a backup, but surely there is a team that will find him projectable at the pro level and take a chance on him in the late rounds. The Patriots, Texans, Indianapolis, and Packers all have holes among the offensive line and may be looking for value late. Big V has also been linked in some mocks to San Francisco and Chip Kelly, and Seattle could make sense as well. Even a team like the Cowboys, who would be more likely to try and grab him as an UDFA, would be a great fit - they can afford to let him develop on the practice squad for a season or two due to the depth and talent along the line as it currently exists.

Wherever he ends up, Big V is sure to find success. With his football smarts and exceptional work ethic, he has all the tools to make, and stick on, an NFL roster.