Name: Will Hernandez
School: Texas-El Paso
Hernandez is simultaneously enormous and undersized. On the one hand, he has almost 350 pounds of muscle at his disposal. On the other, he is relatively short for an NFL lineman and has short arms to match. While his lack of height was rarely an issue in college, it could be a slightly bigger problem in the NFL as he is less likely to overpower every matchup. That being said, not many linemen in this draft possess Hernandez’s overall mass.
Not a single offensive lineman outperformed Hernandez in the bench press at the combine.
In fact, his 37 reps were two better than top guard prospect Quenton Nelson. He has seemingly limitless muscle mass packed into a compact frame and apparently is a member of both a boxing gym and a power lifting gym. But more than that, Hernandez has game strength. Simply put, Hernandez can move anyone where he wants them to go.
Despite his squatty appearance, Hernandez is a surprisingly good athlete. His feet are quick and efficient with no wasted movement. He is quick off the ball, as evidenced by the fact that he had one of the best 10-yard splits among linemen in the 40-yard dash. His 40 time of 5.15 is especially impressive, given the weight he carries. What is more, his body control and balance mean he is only on the ground when he finishes a block.
Technique-wise, Hernandez is nearly flawless in pass pro. His set is quick, low and balanced with good hands. As stated above, he has quick feet, enabling him to mirror opponents and move side-to-side with ease. His punch is quick and strong, though his short arms mean opponents get into him a little more often. Even when that happens, however, Hernandez maintains solid technique and strength, preventing successful counter moves.
The easy, cliche word is “dominant,” but that is exactly what Hernandez is. His drive and leverage are impeccable, creating immediate advantage. He also has a nastiness and a “to the whistle” mentality. Once engaged, defenders have a tall task if they want to get rid of him. Hernandez’s quickness allows his legs to always be in motion and makes him a nightmare as a puller. But it also show off in his ability to get to the second level. Take a look at this clip from UTEP’s 2017 game against Oklahoma. Hernandez is the left guard, number 76.
The play only goes for a couple of yards, but it shows the kind of athlete and blocking force Hernandez is. He takes two men out of the play, first blowing his man off the ball on the double team then quickly moving over to handle the attacking linebacker. Those are the types of plays that should have NFL defensive coaches drooling.
Outside of Nelson, Hernandez may be the most complete guard in the draft. Though his reputation is of a phone booth mauler, he has the quickness and athleticism to zone block and get outside on screens. His pass set is exceptional, though his short arms could make it a little tougher to maintain a good punch at the next level. With the Vikings heavy use of zone and screens, some fans have discounted Hernandez as his nearly 350-pound frame indicates inside blocker only. But his tape and combine demonstrate that is not the case. He is the total package.
Everything about Hernandez screams mid-to-late first round and a day one starter. Two weeks ago, it was almost a given that Hernandez would be available for the Vikings at 30. Now, as his stock steadily rises, it is possible he goes early. But if not, the Vikings could not do much better than Hernandez for an immediate plug-and-play guard.
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