David Yankey, interior linemen from Stanford, was drafted by the Vikings with pick 145, the fifth pick of the fifth round. Originally graded by many as a second-to-third round pick by many draft services, including ESPN and CBS. With needs at the guard position, what can Yankey bring and how does he fit? I wrote about him earlier today as a potential target in the fifth round.
Just like I didn't expect Su'a-Filo to last long enough for the Vikings to get within striking distance of drafting, I don't expect Yankey to be there at the top of the 5th round when the Vikings will make their picks.
Yankey is an extremely intelligent offensive lineman and I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a potential center convert down the road, given his awareness and smarts. He also can play offensive tackle in a pinch, giving any team flexibility should the unexpected happen—Yankey is a better kick out option at tackle should an OT go down than most backup OTs and he's smart enough to be able to make the transition seamlessly.
The first thing that stands out about Yankey is his size and power. He's very strong, and uses it well-not only using brute force against defensive linemen, but leverage and superior pad level, a good combination to have. He sets up off the stance early and he uses his long arms (34") to engage defenders, often hitting them before they get the chance to do the same.
He has a powerful punch and strong hands, and his handfighting is one of the better aspects of his game, making him difficult to disengage from; more than one star defensive tackle has been stonewalled by him for long stretches because of his technique. His pass protection is top notch, and his run blocking could be even better.
With all this, you'd expect him to be a slower guard, but he's not. He's fantastic getting to the second level, with quick feet. He pulls extremely well and he worked well within the timing framework of the Stanford offense. Despite a 40-time of 5.48, he gets to his spot on the field with enough time.
That isn't to say he's extremely quick—he's not a pure zone-blocking guard—but he's faster than people seem to think. He has some inconsistencies with otherwise excellent footwork and some balance problems, but he's a great fit, especially for the complex Vikings running scheme.
Yankey has significant balance issues when he does get to the second level as an interior blocker, but those footwork and balance problems don't quite appear when he pulls, and is one of the best pulling linemen in the class.
His USC game creates significant issues and raise concerns, but outside of that has excellent tape.
The fact that the Vikings run an extremely complex offensive line scheme in running limits the pool of available guards, and Yankey is one of those few guards to come from a system that matches that (for what it's worth, talented guard Brandon Fusco did not). He will still require seasoning to fix those issues, but has shown that he can have the kind of footwork that will resolve those problems and may simply not have focused on that area of the game.
Yankey is an extremely high character pick once more, who regularly volunteers to help the homeless, both in soup kitchens and as a member of Habitat for Humanity.
A fantastic pick by the Vikings, in my opinion.