The New York Giants selected Saquon Barkley, a versatile running back who will take pressure off quarterback Eli Manning, with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft. On Friday, they used the first of three picks (34th overall) on a player who will help protect Manning and open holes for Barkley: UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez.
Hernandez is known for being quicker and nimbler on his feet than most men his size (6-foot-2, 327 pounds). He also possesses the perquisite nastiness required of his position. Hernandez started all 37 of his career games for the Miners (primarily at left guard) and was a Second-team AP All American in 2016 and 2017. He saw his stock rise at the NFL Scouting Combine, where his 37 reps of the 225-pound bench press led all offensive lineman.
General manager Dave Gettleman made rebuilding the offensive line a priority. So far this offseason, the Giants signed left tackle Nate Solder to a deal that makes him the NFL’s highest paid offensive lineman. They also picked up guard Patrick Omameh, a free agent who spent the past two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Hernandez was considered the draft’s second-best prospect at the offensive guard position, after Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson (who was selected sixth by the Indianapolis Colts). Hernandez is the third offensive guard taken after Nelson and Nevada’s Austin Corbett, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns 33rd overall to begin the second round.
Most draft evaluators had Hernandez as a first-round pick who would’ve been selected in the early 20s.