Since many NFL teams only have the roster space to dress seven offensive linemen on Sundays, versatility is greatly appreciated in the two backups as they must split the second-string duties among five different spots. If nothing else, Stanford‘s David Yankey will be a very well-prepared swing backup at the professional level.
Yankey, however, has the potential to be a starter at some point if he continues to improve his technique and settles into a position.
Yankey has continually flipped between guard and tackle while at Stanford. He became a starter as a sophomore, being inserted into the lineup at left guard. He performed well and as a result, they decided to kick him out to left tackle last season. However, he still moved back to guard on some plays to give highly-touted tackle Andrus Peat some exposure.
For 2013, Yankey has been shifted back to guard full-time so that Peat can start at left tackle.
In terms of Yankey’s pro outlook, it would seem that he would be most likely to succeed as a guard in a pass-heavy offense. He’s by no means a road grader, and he shines the most as a pass blocker. His only issue is that edge rushers tend to give him trouble, so putting a tackle outside of him all the time would help solve that problem.
Yankey’s draft value really is contingent on how he performs as a guard this season. Some evaluators see him as having first-round talent, but his rather inconsistent performance and inability to settle on a position will likely drop his stock. Yankey seems destined for the middle rounds at this point, but if he experiences success this year, he could definitely change that.
- Very solid pass blocker
- Provides the ability to play both guard and tackle, though he doesn’t seem to be definitively better at one position
- In the midst of his third full season as a starter; was the first true freshman at Stanford to see action on the offensive line in 10 years
- Not overly physical, plays with kind of a finesse style and seems passive at times
- Footwork leaves something to be desired
- Struggles with executing pulls as a guard
- As a tackle, tends to struggle with rushers off the edge
- Seems to play a step too slow at certain times
- Reputation took a hit last season when he was beaten by USC safety T.J. McDonald on multiple occasions
Yankey is part of a Stanford team that is widely favored to win the Pac-12 Championship. He and his fellow offensive linesmen’s blocking will be key in allowing the inexperienced Stanford offense to put up points and compete with other big Pac-12 forces. Yankey’s toughest matchup will come in Stanford’s season finale against Notre Dame, when he will have to face Louis Nix, the most highly-touted nose tackle in next year’s draft.
2014 Draft Projection: 5th round