By Joseph Beyda
David Yankey, Offensive Guard
Alter ego: “Papa Yank.” The Cardinal’s star left guard acts like the father of the Tunnel Workers Union — and he has the Twitter handle to boot.
CBSSports.com projection: 4th/5th round
Cardinal career: Yankey wasn’t the most highly touted recruit — most scouting services ranked him in the mid-40s for offensive tackles — but that didn’t stop him from playing in two games as a true freshman in 2010, making him the first Cardinal offensive lineman to do so in a decade. After battling back from a season-ending injury that year, he earned the starting job at left guard and by the end of 2011 he fit right in on an offensive line that was about to produce two early-round NFL Draft picks (David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin).
Over his final two seasons, Yankey would become the lead blocker for two consecutive 1,500-yard rushers, Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney. He won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman in 2012, earning consensus All-America honors that year, and he followed through in 2013 again to the tune of unanimous All-America recognition. He’s been the sledgehammer behind the Cardinal’s beloved power running game for two-plus seasons, and his absence will be felt going forward.
Pro stock: Even though he entered 2013 as perhaps Stanford’s most coveted pro prospect, Yankey has fallen on most draft boards since then. His physicality, size and experience aren’t in doubt; rather, most scouting services identify technical imperfections that will hold Yankey back. Yankey may not be the early-round pick he was once expected to be, but he’ll most likely hear his name called on Friday or early Saturday.
Highlight: Yankey’s job as a pulling guard is mostly a thankless one — that is, until it’s played back in slo-mo.
Contact Joseph Beyda at jbeyda ‘at’ stanford.edu.