Although not great, the Ram’s offensive in 2014 was a marked improvement over it’s 2013 predecessor. The addition of Jake Long, emergence of Joe Barksdale and elite guard play by Rodger Saffold provided a solid line for both Sam Bradford and Zac Stacy. Unfortunately, the line’s future is in question. Jake Long suffered an ACL injury late in the season and may not be ready to go by Week 1. Rodger Saffold is a free agent who will probably leave for greener pastures and tackle-money. What does that mean for draft day? It means we have to take a good look at Day 2 and Day 3 lineman prospects.
Awards and Accolades
3 year starter … 40 career starts (26 at LG, 14 at LT) … Team Captain, 1st Team All-American, 1st Team All-Pac 12, Outland and Lombardi Awards finalist as a senior … 2nd Team All-American, 1st Team All-Pac 12, Outland and Lombardi Award watch list as a Junior … 2nd Team All-Pac 12 as Sophomore … Started 2 games before a season ending injury as a Freshman.
Pros: Yankey has that ideal build that allows him to play both tackle and guard. He has an athletic frame with a wide base and room to add more bulk. The lower body explosiveness he wields is what all scouts desire in a power-running guard prospect.
Cons: Even with all the tape I’ve watched, it’s unclear to me whether he’s a waist bender or a knee bender. To be honest he’s a little in the middle. The kickslide drill at the combine will tell all.
Pros: Yankey’s wide, thick base helps him anchor against power. His foot quickness is very good for a guard and is good enough for him to bump outside in a pinch. He has accumulated a lot of experience at Stanford and it shows on the field. He understands angles well and displays a high football IQ.
Cons: His hand placement is fine but he isn’t a savvy hand fighter. His punch lacks shock and suddenness. He plays too tall at times (when he doesn’t bend at the knees) and becomes susceptible to speed and counter moves.
Pros: Yankey is a technician with the physical potential to be a mauler. His football savvy allows him to manipulate running lanes and generate a decent push. Above-average athleticism allows him to pull and get to the 2nd level better than any guard in the class.
Cons: He lacks a bit of strength (that can be fixed in an NFL weight room) and his head tends to drop upon contact. After engaging with the defender he doesn’t continue to drive his legs consistently. Improved hand placement would improve his ability to steer when driving. He doesn’t wield that "play through the whistle" mauler mentality.
While at Stanford, Yankey gained experience on both the outside and the interior. His combination of foot quickness, length, athleticism and football IQ will let him play tackle when needed in the NFL. The biggest thing standing in his way is a lack of elite strength. Gaining an "edge" and improving polishing his technique wouldn’t hurt either.
Fit and Value
I like Yankey as a candidate to step in and start at guard as a rookie. I feel that under Paul B’s tutelage the wrinkles in Yankey’s technique can be ironed out, allowing him to maximize his athletic potential. Overall, he didn’t live up to my expectations. He isn’t as fluid as I originally thought and almost looked a bit choppy.
This evaluation made Yankey fall from 1st to 2nd in my guard rankings. Nevertheless, I have him with a firm 2nd Round grade at the moment. I wouldn’t object to us grabbing him on Day 2.