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2018 NFL Draft: How Guard Will Hernandez Would Fit With The Jaguars

Zach Goodall

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Nov 18, 2017; El Paso, TX, USA; UTEP Miners guard Will Hernandez (76) before facing the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Sun Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft is in 19 days.

With NFL teams finalizing their draft boards, and needs being relatively evident for each team after the free agency period came and went, it’s time to begin evaluating prospect fits at positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In continuation of my Jaguars prospect fit series, let’s take a look at UTEP guard Will Hernandez. You can check out my last piece, on Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki, here.

Measurables: (#) = Percentiles vs. NFL guards

Height: 6-2 3/8 (9)        40 yard dash: 5.15 (81)            20 shuttle: 4.7 (62)

Weight: 327 (83)             Vertical: 24 (12)                       Bench: 37 (97)

Arms: 32 (5)                     Broad: 8-8 (69)

Hands: 9 7/8 (46)           3 cone: 7.59 (78)

Hernandez doesn’t possess ideal height or length, but his 40 yard time, broad jump, 3 cone and bench press stand out. He possesses ideal strength (on the field and on the bench press) and ideal athleticism that comes off as impressive for a man of his frame.

Strengths

Will Hernandez plays angry on every snap. He wants to flatten opposing defenders consistently, and that he did during his four years at UTEP.

I hate to sound hyperbolic, but the effort Hernandez puts in to knock the defender off of his feet and proceeds to roll him over is evident on just about every play the guard is involved in.

Hernandez’s ability to pull and move for his size is incredible. The icing on the cake is his determination to finish the play and clear the way for the QB boot into the endzone. Look at that man fly!

Hernandez is explosive out of his stance and quick to engage, and from there it’s game over for the defender (#93). He is able to maintain his block to gain leverage getting vertical, opening and conserving the 1-hole for a big gain.

Leonard Fournette often struggled to break free on runs within the interior gaps due to a lack of longevity on blocks from guards A.J. Cann and Patrick Omameh last year, so he’d certainly benefit from a guard like Hernandez clearing up some space to explode through.

This is another quality rep from Hernandez without even seeing the result of the play. His strength is tough to match up against, and much like the plays above, Hernandez follows through on his attack until the whistle blows, and then some. The opposing defender literally threw a punch at Hernandez’s helmet out of frustration.

Hernandez’s ability to move and play with power immediately makes him intriguing, and what makes him ever better is his size takes up so much space, making it tough for defenders to pass by him.

Weaknesses

It’s hard to call any prospect perfect, but I don’t see any real weaknesses in Hernandez’s game. He’s a much better mauling run blocker than he is a pass protector, but he also hasn’t allowed a sack since his sophomore season in 2015, so I’d say he’s pretty good in the pass game as well.

The concerns for Hernandez were his level of competition in the C-USA and his lack of length to go against much bigger NFL defensive linemen. However, I believe the explosion out of his stance and quickness to identify and engage his blocks do make up of his lack of arm length.

Hernandez spent his entire career at UTEP playing left guard, so he’s naturally more mechanically fit to play the same spot in the pros. That’s in no way a weakness in terms of evaluating his play, but it becomes one when scouting him as a potential Jaguars fit…

Fit in Jacksonville

…considering the Jaguars made left guard Andrew Norwell the highest paid guard in the NFL just last month. Hernandez would be forced to make the move to right guard as a Jaguar, which is what the team did with A.J. Cann after his days as a left guard at South Carolina.

While Cann certainly hasn’t worked out too well after making the transition, it would be silly to assume other players, like Hernandez, couldn’t successfully make the transition. I believe it’s easier for a guard to swap spots on the line than it is to move a tackle inside to guard, but there would certainly be growing pains as his technique would have to completely flip on the right side.

However, once Hernandez would get the technique down, he’d be a giant upgrade to the offensive line’s lone weak link. Hernandez is a true power blocker who, paired with Norwell, would immediately open running lanes for Fournette to seize and drive down the field.

As I stated in my previous article, Mike Gesicki would be my pick at 29 if he’s available, as there will be a lot of interior talent available on Day 2 of the draft. But Hernandez would be a home-run pick as well, if he slides to the 29th overall pick, and the Jaguars offensive line would be leaps and bounds better than it was in 2017 with Hernandez in house.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars on the Locked On Jaguars Podcast and on BigCatCountry.com. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Ramsey, Fowler Suspended by Jaguars for Violating Team Rules

Demetrius Harvey

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Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) rests on the sideline during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

All-Pro Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been suspended by the Jacksonville Jaguars for a week after addressing a media member via social media today. This, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, is because of a tweet Jalen made following today’s practice. This means he will not participate in joint practices this week against the Minnesota Vikings nor will be participating in the game.

This stems from a video made by a media member today during practice featuring a scuffle between defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive end  Dante Fowler. Following the posting of that video, Ramsey took to twitter and made the following tweet. Following this tweet, the Jaguars have suspended Jalen for a week.

The video in question has been posted below. Here you can see Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler get into some sort of fight. In the end, you can see Ramsey telling media members to turn their cameras off.


UPDATE: Dante Fowler has been suspended for violating team rules as well for his part in the fight today. This, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars Fall to Saints in First Preseason Game of the Year

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talk after their game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars Game Recap

The Jacksonville Jaguars battled with the visiting New Orleans Saints for their first preseason game of the season, losing by a score of 24-20. While the starters played very little (or in some cases not at all), this was still a great test to see how all of the offseason’s hard work has paid off. The Jaguars opened the ball game with a 15-play, 79-yard drive capped off with a Blake Bortles 2-yard bootleg run for a touchdown. That would be the end of the Jaguars offensive starters and they did not need to show much more.

The opening drive for the Jaguars defense started with a long return by the Saints to the 40-yard line and a penalty by Jalen Ramsey to set the Saints up nicely in Jaguars territory. The Jaguars tightened up on defense allowing just a field goal. Not a bad start for one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, especially without veteran DE Calais Campbell out there.

After an opening couple of drives, the Jaguars backups entered the game. Cody Kessler picked up right where Blake Bortles left them. Kessler finished the game 14-17 for 137 yards and a touchdown. He led the Jaguars to three scoring drives, a great day for the backup quarterback. The Jaguars 2nd and 3rd team defense had a so-so day initially giving up only 1 touchdown from the Saints backups. A couple of bright spots on defense were Michael Bennett, defensive tackle, and rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs. As long as Bennett is healthy, he can easily be one of the better defensive tackles on the squad, so this preseason is important for the veteran. Jacobs performed far and away better than his backups tonight, and that could be the showing the rookie needed to keep his position as the starting SAM linebacker.

And then Tanner Lee came in. Tanner Lee is the Jaguars 6th round rookie out of Nebraska. Not highly touted, however, he was looking to impress after some warranted criticism of his play during training camp. Unfortunately for the rookie, he had a very poor outing completing only four out of eight passes for 37 yards and fumbling the ball to set up a short field and what ended up being a game-winning drive by the Saints 24-20. The Jaguars could not get anything at all going with Lee at QB.

Three plays of the game

  • Blake Bortles’ pass to Dede Westbrook to set up a TD run. Bortles had two back to back great plays, one being a pass under pressure to Westbrook to get them within the 5-yard line. And on the very next play, a naked bootleg TD run to put the Jags ahead 7-0.
  • Back to back sacks in the 3rd quarter by Tyler Patmon and Andrew Motuapuaka.
  • Perhaps overlooked, but Josh Lambo continues to be Mr. Automatic here in Duval. He connected on not one but two 49-yard field goals early in the game, and was perfect on two extra points. He is a blessing the Jaguars desperately needed.

Player of the Game

The player of the game had to be backup Quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler, who was acquired via trade from the Cleveland Browns prior to the draft, completed 14 of 17 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. The backup quarterback put together one of the best-looking performances from a backup quarterback that we have seen in a long time.

Conclusion

The Jaguars first preseason game went about as well as anyone could have liked. Not too many highs, but enough to put the Jaguars fans worries of regression at ease. And not too high to not expect, and still want more, especially from the backups. There will be an interesting position battle between not only the wide receiver position but also a few defensive positions. D.J. Chark, as well as the other Jaguars receivers, showed just why they got most of the night off as they looked excellent catching everything that came their way from starter Blake Bortles and backup quarterback Cody Kessler.

Nickel corner and the linebacker positions will be one to watch for. Another position battle to look for is the Jaguars punt return position. Rashad Greene had a negative play (muffed punt), and Jaydon Mickens had a fair catch.

Next week, the Jaguars take on the Minnesota Vikings on August 18th at 1 PM E.T.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Saints: Observations From Jaguars 24-20 Loss

Zach Goodall

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Aug 9, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) drops to throw a pass as New Orleans Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) closes in during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Your Jacksonville Jaguars kick their 2018 (pre)season off with a loss at home over the New Orleans Saints by a score of 24-20. However, despite a one in the preseason L column, the Jaguars first and second team had quite the night, specifically on offense.

62,354 tickets were distributed at TIAA Bank Field, which marks a dramatic increase in compared to preseasons’ prior.

Let’s get to the observations.

Roster locks at QB look sharp

It appears one game into the preseason that the Jaguars have their two QBs locked in on the depth chart in Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. Both quarterbacks performed well in their first game action of 2018.

Bortles completed 6-of-9 passes for 53 yards and a rushing touchdown. His longest pass went to Dede Westbrook for a 16 yard gain to put the team in the redzone, which was a perfectly placed ball across the middle of the field. Bortles ran a boot at the two yard line to give the Jaguars their first score of the night. Bortles and the Jaguars first team offense played 14 snaps.

Kessler had himself quite the game as well, going 14-17 for 139 yards and a throwing touchdown to tight end Scott Orndoff. His best pass of the night came on a 24 yard toss to receiver Shane Wynn down the left side of the field.

Tanner Lee entered the game in the fourth quarter and was immediately sacked twice. He went 4-8 with a fumble and two sacks.

Leon Jacobs looks the part at SAM linebacker

The Jaguars 7th round pick came out firing in his first career action, making a nice run stop with the starters and continuing to apply pressure as a rusher with the second team. Being that the SAM linebacker is on the field dramatically less than the rest of the position on defense, Jacobs received reps with both the first and the second team.

This appears to be Jacobs’ job to lose. He has taken first team reps at SAM during the entirety of Jaguars’ training camp, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

6th WR battle ain’t over yet

Despite a solid training camp from receiver Rashad Greene, it doesn’t appear that he has the Jaguars’ sixth receiver spot on lock down.

Greene muffed a punt during the game, and his ability as a punt returner is vital in his battle for the position. As a receiver, Greene finished his night with two catches for 13 yards.

Meanwhile, Shane Wynn had a productive night, with three receptions for 39 yards and a rush for five yards. With the ability to return punts and consistently making plays, Wynn is making a case to win the job.

Specialists shine

Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo hasn’t appeared to have lost a step, making two 49 yard field goals and hitting two extra points.

In his NFL debut, rookie punter Logan Cooke kicked two punts, the first being a beautiful 56 yarder with all the hang-time in the world, pinning the Saints at their own 18 yard line. His second was inside the 20 yard line as well, going 33 yards from the Jaguars 48 yard line.

Injuries

-LB Blair Brown left the game, and was evaluated for a concussion

-LG Andrew Norwell was a late scratch with calf tightness

-WR DeAndre Smelter, S Don Carey, DT Eli Ankou, DE Dante Fowler Jr. (PUP), LB Brooks Ellis, OT Will Richardson, OT Jermey Parnell, WR Keelan Cole, DL Taven Bryan, DL Calais Campbell, and DE Dawuane Smoot were all inactive

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