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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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