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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 for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.

The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.

Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin

Zach Goodall

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Oct 21, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and forces a fumble during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.

Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.

And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.

“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”

In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.

“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.

What?

In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.

And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.

Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.

Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”

The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.

This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB

Zach Goodall

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Sep 16, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) attempts a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”

This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.

Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.

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