Summary: Stanford has been one of the most consistent and physical football teams in the nation since Jim Harbaugh remade the Cardinal in his vision. David Shaw has extended that since Harbaugh went to the 49ers as Stanford has featured a tough defense and power running game on an annual basis. The Cardinal's nasty, old school style of play has made Stanford a top-10 program and one of the powerhouses of the Pac-12. One of the leaders on the Cardinal offense over the past three seasons was Yankey. He played tackle and guard, to help pave the way for Stanford' workman-style offense.
Early on, Yankey saw time on the right side of the offensive line in 2011 and played well. He split time between right tackle and left guard. The sophomore was listed as an All-Pac-12 honorable mention after the season. Yankey did a good job of opening holes for Stepfan Taylor and protecting Andrew Luck.
With Jonathan Martin moving on to the NFL, Yankey had an impressive junior season taking over at left tackle for the Cardinal. Overall, he was an adept pass-protector and did an impressive job of opening up holes for Taylor.
In 2012, Yankey had a great game against USC, but he and the offensive line didn't play well against Washington. Notre Dame's superb defensive line and linebackers battled hard against Yankey with each side getting its share of wins. He did well against Oregon and UCLA late in the year. Yankey was named a First-Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and The Sporting News. He was a Second-Team All-American by the AP and a First-Team All-Pac-12 pick.
Stanford moved Yankey inside to left guard for 2013. Young left tackle Andrus Peat has the potential to be a high draft pick, while Yankey's most natural position is guard. Yankey had a solid year for Stanford. The senior was very good against UCLA and Oregon State. Versus Oregon, he was an animal. All night, Yankey pulled to his right and blasted open holes in the ground game. He was overwhelming that game. Yankey didn't play as well against USC, but bounced back against Notre Dame. To end his career, he didn't create much of a push against Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.
As a blocker, Yankey is a very well-rounded prospect who is prepared for the NFL. He is a technician who is a balanced run- and pass-blocker. Yankey does well opening holes in the ground game and could execute as a man or zone blocker. His pulling is his best asset. Yankey is quick to get around the left side, and when he's on the move, he can blast open some holes. Yankey could stand to improve his power for short-yardage situations to get more of a push.
Yankey is a reliable pass-protector who has the quickness and athleticism to negate speed rushers. He also has enough strength and weight in his lower body to anchor against bull rushers. With some NFL coaching, Yankey should end up being a good pass-protector as a pro.
Yankey is a favorite to be the first guard selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. He could go late in the first round and shouldn't fall out of Round 2. For the NFL, Yankey looks like he can play quickly and will be a long-term starter.
Player Comparison: Marshall Yanda. Yankey's game is similar to Yanda. They both are well-rounded blockers who do a good job in the ground game and pass protection. Yanda and Yankey are strong blockers, but not overly powerful. Both are smart, good at pulling and can handle speed rushers. Yanda (6-3, 305) isn't as big as Yankey. That's one reason why Yanda was a third-round pick. Yankey could go as high as the late first round, but he should go on Day 2 at the latest. In the NFL, Yankey could develop into guard who is similar to Yanda, which is high praise considering Yanda is one of the top guards in the NFL.
NFL Matches: Seattle, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Oakland, Minnesota, Miami, New York Jets
There are a lot of teams that could consider taking Yankey, especially in the second round. At the end of the first round, the Seahawks could consider adding some offensive line help to improve the right side of their offensive line.
A number of teams picking in the top-20 selections of Round 2 need interior offensive line help and are likely to draft for defense or a quarterback in the first round.
The Jaguars need a lot of help on their offensive line, and Yankey would make a lot of sense for Jacksonville as a player who could start immediately. Will Rackley has been awful and must be replaced.
WalterFootball.com learned from sources that the Falcons were very disappointed in the play of the inside of their offensive line in 2013. Atlanta wants to get bigger and more physical on the interior, which taking Yankey would help accomplish.
Carl Nicks may never play again for Tampa Bay, while Davin Joseph is declining. The Bucs could consider a guard if they don't go that route in free agency.
Cleveland could use an upgrade over Shawn Lauvao and Oniel Cousins, while Oakland has to find a replacement for Lucas Nix. Yankey could make sense for the Browns or Raiders.
In the AFC East, Yankey has three potential landing spots. Buffalo never replaced Andy Levitre adequately. The Jets need to add two guards this offseason while Miami also has to improve its guards. Any of those teams could target Yankey in the second round.
Minnesota could use a run-blocker in front of Adrian Peterson while Charlie Johnson is entering free agency. A guard who can pull like Yanda could pay dividends for the Vikings.