INDIANAPOLIS – There has been a progression of Stanford offensive linemen to the NFL in recent seasons.
With a couple of top prospects selected lately – David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin – that count could deepen even further with two others – David Yankey and Cameron Fleming – declaring for the 2014 draft.
Yankey (click here) stands as one of the draft’s top offensive line prospects. It is no surprise since he earned All-American honors at two different positions in his last two seasons at Palo Alto.
“I’m going to bring a physical demeanor,” said Yankey at the combine on Thursday. “I’m going to play with that mentality that we have at Stanford and also bring a lot of athleticism and natural football intelligence, just understanding the game and being able to play fast.”
The 6-5, 313-pound Yankey (click here), who was born in Australia and prepped in Georgia, was a unanimous All-American choice at left guard in 2013.
In becoming just the eighth unanimous choice in program history and the first two-time first-team All-American since Bob Whitfield (1990-91), Yankey opened 12-of-13 games as Stanford went 11-2 before falling in the Rose Bowl to Michigan State.
The honorable mention all-conference academic pick earned All-American notice at left tackle in 2012.
Stanford’s pro-style offense under David Shaw has flourished along with the coaching of Mike Bloomgren, who joined the Cardinal in 2011 as run game coordinator and offensive line coach.
Bloomgren moved to coordinator this past season when Yankey repeated his All-American performance. Part of what helped the team excel was its zone blocking ability.
“That’s something we’ve tried to increase the last couple of years, and I think we’ve gotten a lot better at it,” said Yankey. “I think it’s something I’ve gotten a lot better at since Coach Bloomgren came in my sophomore year. Just learning more about targets and the footwork and how it really stretches a defense. I think we’ve done a really good job of implementing that.”
Yankey said he has a bit of nastiness to him and cited the program for preparing players for the next level.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” said Yankey. “We come in and they emphasize being really tough. We’re going to go out and be physical every week. We’re not going to let up.
“Then also you have the intellectual side where we’re going to have a really complex playbook and we’re going to expect you to understand it and be able to switch from week-to-week with our game plan and understand our adjustments and our kills. All that stuff (prepares players).”
Prior to having Bloomgren as coordinator (now formally called the Andrew Luck Director of Offense), Yankey enjoyed toiling under Pep Hamilton.
“Pep was awesome. I loved having him as a coach,” said Yankey. “He was a guy who’s really witty and keeps it fun in meetings, but also has a great game presence. That’s pretty evident with how well he’s done in coaching and the job he’s done in Indy this (past) year.”
Yankey believes he can play guard and tackle and feels pass protection is one of his strengths. He knows multi-position versatility is a premium for NFL coaches and scouts.
“I thought he was an incredible player at the time,” said Yankey. “We thought he was the best player in college football, but I didn’t realize exactly how good he was until he got to the NFL and started doing those same things in the league.”
Yankey was eligible for a fifth season by only playing in two games as a freshman in 2010. He will graduate this spring, completing one big personal goal that paves the way to chase the next dream.
The combine is an excellent chance to display skills in drills and interviews. He feels he is ticketed as a second- or third-round choice.
“The impression I want to leave is a guy who has a great work ethic, great character, is not going to have any off-field issues. A guy who’s going to come to work every day and be a help to the team, make the team better,” said Yankey. “As long as you still have the athleticism and footwork to pass block at an elite level, it can’t hurt to be a really good run blocker who’s got a physical, mean streak.”