Potential fit with the Eagles- Will Hernandez 2018 NFL draft profile
With the 2018 NFL Draft approaching, what better time to begin studying prospects that can be potential fits for the Eagles.
Will Hernandez (#76 UTEP)
Will Hernandez is a really talented offensive lineman, that has consistently gotten better each year at UTEP. A four year starter for the Miners, Hernandez is one of the most experienced lineman available in the draft, and is perceived to be one of the safer picks available. Let’s explore his strengths and weaknesses, and see just how well he fits in with the Eagles.
Positional fit- Left Guard
- Run blocking
Hernandez is clearly an extremely strong player, which is evident when watching him latch on to opposing defenders in order to move them around the field against their will. If there were any doubts about Hernandez’s strength, his 37 reps on the bench press at the Combine should silence any potential critics.
Here Hernandez is lined up at his usual left guard position, and uses his strength to drive the Oklahoma defensive tackle out of the hole. Hernandez is even able to re-adjust his feet to get a follow up block on the defender.
Hernandez uses his strength and solid technique to move the Oklahoma DT off of the line of scrimmage, and then teams up with another offensive lineman to pancake the defender. Hernandez plays through the whistle and always looks to intimidate.
Hernandez misses on the initial block after pulling, but doesn’t give up on the play and comes back to blind side and level the Oklahoma player. Again, Hernandez is physical and looks to impose his will all game long.
Arguably Hernandez’s best skill is his ability to run block at an extremely high level. He’s consistent with his hand placement, footwork, and play strength, which allows him to win many of his matchups.
Here Hernandez stands up the defensive tackle at the line of scrimmage and remains engaged until the whistle is blown. Hernandez uses his strong lower body to anchor himself while remaining engaged with the tackle to keep him away form the ball carrier.
While lined up at his left guard position, Hernandez takes a step to his right and uses an excellent seal block to turn the defender out of the hole, providing the back a solid lane to run through.
Hernandez engages the defensive tackle, and finishes the block off with a pancake, driving the opposing player into the ground. These types of plays add up over the span of a game, as Hernandez consistently dominates his opponents.
Hernandez walls off the defender and gets his hand in perfect position to control the defensive tackle. Hernandez’s block frees the back for a big run, which is something you see him do on tape regularly.
Having been a four year starter, Hernandez benefits from having seen multiple defensive fronts and schemes while in college. After 37 games as a starter Hernandez boasts a solid resume as a left guard.
Hernandez constantly keeps his head on a swivel, locating places where he can assist his fellow offensive lineman in pass protection, or as a run blocker. Here he peels back to level the defensive end, knocking him to the ground.
Again Hernandez peels back to level the pass rushing defensive end, catching him mid spin move, and sends him to the ground. Hernandez seeks out contact whenever possible, which makes him a guard to be feared by the opposition.
Hernandez does a great job of picking up the blitzing defender, quickly identifying the blitz and realizing immediately who he needed to block. Again, Hernandez’s significant number of starts in college are definitely a positive when projecting him to the NFL as a left guard.
- Limited athleticism
- Grabby at times as a blocker
- Lack of positional flexibility
While Hernandez isn’t an athletic liability, he also isn’t going to wow you as a plus athlete. His limited ability in space definitely shows up on tape whenever he’s tasked with blocking a faster and more agile defender.
Hernandez gives up the pressure to the stunting pass rusher, the pressure causes the QB to break from the pocket to toss an incompletion. While this isn’t completely Hernandez’s fault, this play highlights his inability to change directions quickly, or flip his hips to change directions.
Hernandez completely misses the opposing player in space, whiffing and allowing the player to run right by him. Hernandez is excellent in tight quarters, and even as a pulling guard, but playing in space is definitely not his forte.
Hernandez can over extend some times, leading to him being beat by more savvy defenders. Most times he’s beaten by a spin move back inside, allowing the defender to break free from his grasp. On this play the defensive tackle stands Hernandez up and spins back inside for the run stop.
Grabby as a blocker
A holding penalty is never as cut and dry as “holding” a defender, considering the widely known fact that holding takes place on almost every play. Hernandez usually has good hand placement, but will get “grabby” at times, which will leave him open to flags in the NFL.
Hernandez gets a handful of jersey on his play, and even though he didn’t draw a penalty flag he needs to focus on keeping his hands closer to the defenders pads.
Hernandez hooks the defender while run blocking on this play, not only holding the defender by the pads, but also getting his arm across the chest of the defender making the hold blatant.
Lack of positional flexibility
Will Hernandez is a left guard simple and plain, and projects best as a guard only in the NFL. His less than ideal foot speed and athleticism limit his upside as an NFL tackle, and center doesn’t seem like an ideal fit. Though he doesn’t really have any experience there, it’s quite possible that Hernandez can play right guard as well, though there’s less of a need there with Brandon Brooks already locked in as a starter. Left guard, however, is a need, and a spot where Hernandez could start day one. His lack of positional flexibility will definitely limit his draft potential, but isn’t a deal breaker.
Philadelphia would be fortunate to have Hernandez fall into their lap at the #32 pick. While guard isn’t an immediate need, it will be one in the near future, and Hernandez is one of the best guards in this draft class. His strength combined with a nasty disposition make Hernandez a pleasure to watch on tape, but a nightmare for opposing defenders. Hernandez plays to the whistle, and once he gets his strong hands latched onto you, it’s nearly impossible to break free. Hernandez beats up opposing players, and has played well against Power 5 teams, as well as a strong showing at the Senior Bowl.
Clearly Hernandez isn’t a perfect product, with his athleticism, and inability to play any position other than guard standing out as his biggest flags. He also has average sized hands and arm length, which only increases the likelihood that he will be an interior only lineman. While he can’t overcome his athletic ability, Hernandez is a smart and experienced guard that uses his intelligence to his benefit as a blocker.
Pro Comparison- Kelechi Osemele (LG Oakland) Raiders
While the popular comparison for Hernadez is Richie Incognito, I liken the young prospect to another physical guard, Oakland’s Kelechi Osemele. Osemele is a former left tackle at Iowa State that transitioned to guard once he was drafted into the NFL. Osemele has blossomed as a left guard for the Raiders, and is recognized as one of the most physically dominant and imposing players in the NFL. Osemele and Hernandez are similar in regards to their lack of plus athleticism, but both players make up for it with outstanding play strength.