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Would Stanford's David Yankey be an Upgrade at Guard?

Going over the "safe" prospects, with the 1st Team All American from Stanford

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

When I watch interior offensive lineman, I look for certain traits that the current San Diego lineman don't have, which is balance and athleticism. If an offensive lineman is constantly on the ground, and can only play in a phone booth, he's nearly worthless. I'm looking for lineman who explode on contact, not ones who drop their heads and whiff half of the time.

For much of the draft process, Stanford's David Yankey was viewed as a safe pick, because his 1st team All-American status, and the assumption that comes when you play with the "S" on your helmet. Unlike many of the guards I've watched in this class, Yankey doesn't have any issues picking up stunts. He's very aware of who his assignment is, has good power, and is good from a technical stand point.

Then you take a closer look, and don't really see any special traits that make you want to take Yankey early on. He doesn't have special movement skills like UCLA's Xavier Sua-Filo. The power isn't going to wow you like Auburn's Greg Robinson, and he isn't a true technician like Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. Then you continue to watch, to see what traits he brings to the table that would make you think he's a 2nd round pick. The more I watched, the more Yankey's lack of athleticism and poor balance showed. Draft Breakdown has provided us with 5 games from 2013(thanks again for the work you guys do.)


Yankey starts to stumble as soon as he gets out over his toes. This was an issue during the entire USC game. I lost count how many times he was on the ground. It was in the double digits.

The lack of athleticism shows when he's asked to face quicker defensive lineman, too. Yankey doesn't redirect very well, so defenders beat him with a counter move pretty easily.


This showed when he was asked to block moving targets as well. The body control just isn't there.


Yankey plays with his feet too close together in pass protection, and gets out over his feet as a run blocker. Both of these lead to poor balance, and him either whiffing totally, or falling off of blocks. For an athlete who is limited and stiff, this just doesn't bode well for success at the next level.


Yankey was asked to play on the move quite a bit at Stanford. Whether it was on sweeps, or run plays outside of the tackle, or short pulling run plays like traps & power plays, so it was easy to see how he would translate to the next level with the type of run diverse offense Stanford has. At times Yankey will take a false step or two when getting out of his stance to pull, he's not a very sudden mover. On blocks when he does make contact, it looks good, he shows off the power you look for. The issue is his balance, that, and he drops his head. Bad combination to have.

Grade/Final Thought

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable < 4.0

Trait Weight Grade
Run Block 4 3.5
Pass Block 4 3.3
Technique 2.5 2.3
Strength 2.5 2.1
Awareness 2 1.8
Change of Direction/Balance 2 .5
Flexibility 2 .8
Quickness 2 1.1
Size 2 2
Length 2 2

Yankey grades out to a 6.91, or a 4th round pick. He could be a spot starter, but not a starter that can be relied on from what I've seen. While he is very aware, aggressive, and shows good power, I don't believe Yankey has the balance, movement skills, or suddenness to be relied on as a starter in the NFL.

How He Fits as a Charger

San Diego has some similarities in their running game as Stanford. They probably ask their lineman to block on the move even more than the Cardinal. This doesn't bode well for Yankey. I would be worried about his lack of athleticism and I think he would be exposed by quicker defensive lineman in the passing game. You're looking to upgrade from what you currently have at the position, not bring in a player who has similar attributes of what you're trying to get rid of.