The Vikings Rookie Preview series rolls on today with the only offensive lineman to be taken by the Vikings in the 2014 Draft. Rick Spielman has found a couple gems late in the draft up front with John Sullivan and Brandon Fusco; will the trend continue with Stanford’s David Yankey?
David Yankey, OG – Stanford
Taken in 5th Round, 145th overall by Vikings
Age: 22; Height: 6-5; Weight: 315
40 Yard Dash: 5.52; Bench: 22; Broad Jump: 8’7”; Short Shuttle: 4.86; 3-Cone Drill: 7.81
2011 Stats – 13 starts at left guard
2012 Stats – 14 starts at left tackle
2013 Stats – 13 starts at left guard
*Note: Scouting information is primarily from Dane Brugler of CBS Sports
Yankey was a highly productive and by all accounts intelligent player in Stanford’s pro-style system, and it’s likely that those traits led him to being drafted by the Vikings. While it’s hard to actually measure “production” for a guard, Yankey was a key cog at one of the best running attacks in college football, and averaged 8.45 knockdowns and 1.3 touchdown-resulting blocks per game in college according to the Star Tribune.
Yankey is not the most athletic specimen, but he showed good body control while in college and was still productive pulling in the run game. Yankey also has great instincts and awareness while on the field, quickly diagnosing how opposing defenses were attacking the Stanford protection scheme.
Those traits led Yankey to be one of the highest rated guards in the draft early on in the offseason, but after workouts his stock slipped quite a bit. Yankey’s combine drills were rather pedestrian, and later film work lead some scouts to believe Yankey had slow feet.
Another technical issue with Yankey is that he doesn’t keep his pad level low enough consistently, and needs to control his momentum to get better position on opposing defenders. Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, who had Yankey on his radar for years because his son knew him, will have to get that fixed if Yankey is ever to become a starter.
Spot on the Depth Chart:
With Yankey’s addition the Vikings will have a lot of competition on their offensive line in training camp, mainly for the four backup line spots.
Yankey worked at left guard during rookie minicamp, which is currently Charlie Johnson’s spot in the starting lineup. Other backup guards on the Vikings roster include veterans Vlad Duccasse and Joe Berger, as well as 2013 sixth round pick Jeff Baca.
Yankey could get snaps at both tackle spots at some point this offseason for depth purposes. Yankey is a former All-American left tackle and David Shaw mentioned during the NFL Network draft broadcast that he thought Yankey could succeed at right tackle as well.
The Vikings have Kevin Murphy and Mike Remmers, who both did not see much action last season, as backup tackles right now. Yankey, along with undrafted rookie Antonio “Tiny” Richardson, should give the two a run for their money as tackle depth.
Odds of Making Roster: Probable
Yankey has the talent and collegiate production to provide valuable offensive line depth right away, and if he cleans up his footwork a little in training camp he’ll have a shot at a starting job before long.
A key factor in Yankey’s favor is his versatility, as he has the potential to provide depth at three of the spots on the offensive line right away. That makes him potentially more valuable than some of the veteran depth the Vikings have at guard, especially if he can pick up the playbook quickly.
Yankey is also dark horse to supplant Johnson at left guard right away, as Johnson’s play has been anything but inspiring, but it will take a lot to make that happen. Yankey played at a high level in a pro style system in college though, and he will likely slide right in as a backup lineman for the Vikings.