With the 145th pick in the draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Stanford offensive guard David Yankey.
This pick is an indication of the Vikings' opinion of their current depth on the offensive line. Yankey may have landed in a situation in which he can compete for playing time, which doesn't happen for most fifth-round selections.
Yankey was held in high regard during his 2013 season but lost steam with struggles at the end of the year and a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Per NFL.com, he clocked in with a 5.48-second 40-yard dash and a 7.81-second three-cone time. Those were some of the worst times among offensive linemen in attendance.
That lack of athleticism shows up on the field as well. Yankey has heavy feet, struggling to cover ground in a hurry. Even more concerning is his lack of balance as a blocker. He tends to lunge into blocks instead of bringing his feet up underneath of him. Defenders then slide off easily, and Yankey is left on his knees.
My problem with Yankey is that he spends too much time on the ground. That usually doesn't bode well at the next level.— Thomas Melton (@TMeltonScouting) May 10, 2014
His issues in pass protection are equally concerning. He needs to learn how to use his long arms and fend off defensive tackles. That's how he can compensate for a lack of lateral quickness. The quality of Stanford's offensive line hid some of those issues with Yankey.
Minnesota most likely views Yankey as a starter at left guard in a year or two. In their power scheme, Yankey's mean streak and physicality will make a difference. Few guards can pop defenders with as powerful a punch as Yankey can. He is also a very smart blocker who should be able to pick up the offense in a hurry.
Stanford loved to wrap Yankey around the center and let him lead up on linebackers. He could be used in a similar way with Minnesota. He has the functional strength to create movement at the point of attack and wedge open holes. Any selection of an offensive lineman for the Vikings is made with their running back in mind. Adrian Peterson is certainly the first thought for the player selected as well. That was no different for David Yankey.
David Yankey excited to pave way for Adrian Peterson: "I'm excited man .... Just to have watched that guy explode on Sundays.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) May 10, 2014
Yankey's versatility is also appealing in terms of offensive line depth. He has experience at both left tackle and left guard, where he played well for the Cardinal. The Vikings may view him as an offensive lineman who can play every position. That is very important when adding depth up front.
Vikings fans should not expect David Yankey to beat out Charlie Johnson or any other incumbent starter in camp this season. Yankey will have to wait in the wings for his opportunity. That should give him a chance to sharpen up his footwork, balance and hand usage as a blocker. Those developments are needed in order for Yankey to become a quality starter for the Minnesota Vikings.