Before They Were Pros: OL David Yankey

Before the Vikings found value with David Yankey in the fifth round, he was told he would be a second- or third-round pick. See what else he had to say about the transition to the NFL when he was at the NFL Scouting Combine.

What will you bring to the NFL?
“I’m going to bring a physical demeanor. 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.”

A nastiness?
“A little bit.”

Are you comfortable with zone blocking?
“That’s something we’ve tried to increase the last couple of years, and I think we’ve gotten a lot better at it. I think it’s something I know I’ve gotten a lot better at since coach (Mike) 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.”

Who is the toughest defender you faced?
“The toughest defender was probably Stephon Tuitt, the defensive end at Notre Dame. Really big guy. Solid all around. I think he has one of the best games all around.”

Have you gotten interest from the Saints, maybe protecting Drew Brees?
“Drew Brees is an absolutely incredible quarterback. I’ve watched him play for a long time. Growing up I was just north of Atlanta, so I watched him give us fits every now and then. It’s something that as an offensive lineman should excite you. I got to protect Andrew Luck for a year as a sophomore and that was something that every week there’s that added bit of nervousness because you know how good that guy back there is if you give him enough time.”

Is pass protection a strength?
“I think it’s definitely one of my strengths, being able to go from guard to tackle, really on either side of the line and play all four of those positions.”

Indy has become Stanford East with so many Stanford players. Have you noticed that?
“Definitely a lot of Stanford guys out here. Coby Fleener, who’s back at Stanford working out. Seen him quite a bit. Then Andrew, Griff (Whalen), Delano (Howell), a bunch of guys who have come and played here for the Colts. That’s pretty cool. And of course Pep on the coaching staff.”

Did you see this type of potential in Luck that year you were with him?
“Yeah, definitely. I thought he was an incredible player at the time. 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.”

What are your impressions of Jonathan Martin situation?
“I don’t know the details of the situation and what went on. A lot of the story is still evolving. I do know I was Jonathan’s teammate for two years at Stanford when I was a freshman and sophomore. I thought he was a great teammate. Nothing but good things to say about him. He’s a great guy. I’ve actually seen him in workouts and stuff like that (at Stanford), but I haven’t talked to him about that situation.”

How does Stanford prepare players for the NFL?
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. 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. Having that base. And 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.”

Do you pattern yourself after anyone?
“Justin Blaylock with the Atlanta Falcons was a guy that I met a couple of years ago and think he’s a really good guard in the NFL. And even though he’s a Stanford guy, Dave DeCastro is coming on really strong with the Steelers and he’s someone I played with, learn from and now to see him play in the pros is pretty cool.”

On being an all-around talent in a run-heavy offense…
“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.”

What do you want to show teams during interview process?
“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.”

Why did you declared for the draft early?
“The thing that made it easy to make my decision is I wasn’t focused on what other guys were doing. It was about me and where I was as a person. It was something I talked about with my family a little bit. We felt it was right for me to come out. Unfortunately a lot of guys decided to come out and give me a little competition. But that’s fine. There’s a lot of great guys who will do great things in the NFL as well. After playing for three full years at Stanford, I really liked where I was in the college game but felt like I could get so much better in the NFL as I progress as a player. Graduation was always so important and now I’m graduating in the spring. It’s a chance to graduate and get that goal done and then pursue one of my life-long dreams, which is to play in the NFL.”

What did the predraft evaluation board tell you?
“It was (round) 2 to 3.”


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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