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With the 2nd pick in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected 6’2”, 327-pound offensive guard Will Hernandez from UTEP.
SCOUTING REPORT: Four-year starter who lined up at left guard in college. Hernandez lacks ideal height, but he is a big, tough, strong, powerful guard who does his best work in-line and not on the move. Hernandez is a mauler who plays with leverage and gets movement as a run blocker. He plays with an attitude and looks to finish his blocks and punish opponents. Hernandez lacks ideal foot quickness which hampers his game in space as a puller and at the second level. He is a very good pass protector who won’t be bull-rushed and can mirror and slide with pass rushers.
-A bull when he is moving downhill off the snap
-Excellent leverage and initial punch, almost always wins the contact battle
-Quick feet as a side shuffle pass blocker
-Slow out of his stance as a lateral mover
-Struggles to maintain separation from defenders
-Gets top heavy, shows his numbers to the dirt, doesn’t keep his head up
Fifth year senior. Hernandez will be ready for NFL right away when it comes to the power game. He won’t be pushed back by anyone and he will excel as a straight ahead run blocker. I get nervous with him elsewhere, however. If he is up against speed and quickness inside on passing downs, a growing trend, I can see him having a hard time. He doesn’t lock guys up and there are some adjustment issues. He can be a stud in the right scheme, but a major liability in the wrong scheme. He is not a one size fits all lineman.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: One of the great gifts you can get in the draft is when value meets need and we had a solid first round grade on Willie, so we’re thrilled to get him. He’s exactly what we’re looking for. He’s a power blocker, he’s tough, he finishes strong. He played for an 0-13 team last year and if you look at him in game 13, you know the kid has pride, he has a tremendous amount of pride because he played as hard in that game as he played in game one. You know I love the hog mollies and this guy really has a lot of talent. He is a very athletic kid for his size. He can run, he can pull and he plays very smart. I’m thrilled we got him.
Shurmur: Yeah, likewise. We had him graded in the first round, so we were excited and a little anxious at the end of the round last night. We were hopeful that he would be there and certainly being second today, we just had to wait out what Cleveland was going to do. We had a decent idea that they were going to go O-line, so we were kind of waiting to see and fortunately they didn’t pick our guy. But Will is going to give us strength in the middle, he’s good in the run game as well as the pass game. I think it’s very important to anchor the inside of the pocket and the passing game, which he can certainly do. He can do all the things that you need to see from a guard and he’s been very productive. He had an outstanding Senior Bowl. What’s lost in some of the scouting – the Senior Bowl is one of the first real events or exposures that we as coaches have with players and it’s a great way for us to get a kick start as coaches on what you’re going to see from the players because it’s good against good in kind of a pro setting and he had a really, really good week. Every exposure, we just continued to warm up to him as a guy that was going to fit our New York Giants culture, so we were pleased that he was there and we picked him.
Q: Did you have any thoughts of moving up back into the first round to get Will?
Gettleman: No. Right now, the bottom line is we’ve only got six picks, so if you’re moving up, you’re going to drop a pick and we just can’t do that. If you had a full complement of picks, we might have, but sometimes patience is rewarded.
Q: You were here when the Giants drafted Chris Snee. Do you remember how you felt about him and does Hernandez correspond there?
Gettleman: Will is bigger obviously. Will is a natural 320-pound guy. What made Chris unique is he had great quickness and he was strong as an ox and he was a very good athlete. Comparing Will to him, he is just a bigger guy but, again, strong as an ox and a really good athlete. I vividly remember that day.
Q: Is he a similar prospect in your mind?
Gettleman: Yeah, you don’t want to anoint him. This kid has a chance to be really, really good.
Q: In Carolina, you took a lot of big, long offensive linemen. Do you have a general theory on offensive linemen?
Gettleman: Body range is always great. It is always great to have the body range. In Carolina, you know (Panther G) Trai Turner is only 6-2 and change, but he’s a long armed guy and he’s athletic and powerful. It’s about watching film really and there are plenty of guys that are weight room strong that aren’t game strong and there are guys that you look at and you kind of scratch your head when you put the film on and they play with great power. My point is there are 320-pound guys that can play like they are 290 and there are 300-pound guys that can play 350. To me, the biggest thing is you obviously want them to be as athletic as they can be so that they can make all the blocks – you can reasonably expect and you want them to be smart because especially inside, people have this, there’s this thing in scouting, ‘Well, we’ll try him at tackle if he doesn’t work out inside.’ That’s a fallacy. It’s a different game inside, Pat (Shurmur) will tell you, he played there in his career. It’s a different game, it’s happening twice as fast. Basically a tackle or in some schemes, you tell the tackle, ‘You see that guy over there, the defensive end. Just block him all day long and I don’t care what number it is, but you block that defensive end.’ Inside, it is completely different because of the speed, so you’re looking for athletic ability, you’re looking for power, you’re looking for intelligence and instincts because the stuff happens so fast in there that if the kid is not instinctive, he’s going to fail. I’ve seen guys go inside and fail miserably because it was just too fast.
Q: When you talk about Hernandez playing as hard in his 13th game as he did in his first, does it say that this kid’s character matches his talent?
Gettleman: Just think about it. Just imagine you guys playing any sport and you’ve got an X game season and you haven’t won a game and you’re playing the last game. Fifty percent of the population is going to say, ‘Forget about it, I’m done.’ The toughness and the character of this kid in the 13th game was very, very impressive.
Q: How much debate went into other players at this pick?
Gettleman: When we took him, he was the guy on the board that was ranked the highest.
Q: You were part of a recent offensive line rebuild. Does what the Giants have done so far this offseason remind you of something that can be successful?
Shurmur: Eerily similar to a year ago actually. Dave and I were just talking about it and this really wasn’t planned, but it was part of the equation. But, a year ago in Minnesota we went out and got two free agents and then we drafted Pat Elflein, who played center for us and played at a level way above what a rookie would play. This year we went out and got two free agents and now we’ve drafted another offensive lineman and a year ago we brought in Dalvin Cook and we brought in Saquon Barkley. I don’t think it was planned that way, but it sort of worked out that way and we’ve got two more picks tonight, so we’ll see what happens. But I do know this, whether you coach offense, you coach defense, it doesn’t matter what position you coach – if you can’t block them, nothing works and so we’ve made obviously an effort here to improve ourselves up front, so all those guys that do the fancy stuff can do their thing.
Q: How much better did your running game get in the last two days?
Shurmur: A lot better. We’re all saying that with a smile. I think when you bring in a dynamic runner and then you bring in a guy that can block, certainly those are two pieces to the equation.
Q: Patrick Omameh has played left guard and so does Will. What are your initial thoughtd about that?
Shurmur: Will is going to play both sides to see where he fits in. He is going to get the same speech that I gave Saquon earlier. I gave him that ‘here is your locker, here is your helmet, here is the field’ speech. He is going to get the same speech.
Gettleman: Just so you know, Patrick started games at right guard early in his career.
Q: How is Hernandez pulling out on screens and stuff like that?
Gettleman: He is a really good athlete. For a guy at his size, he really is a good athlete. He can bend, he can change direction. Part of being a power blocker is the ability to pull your hips on contact. He can do that.
Q: Some of the clips you see, he looks a little nasty.
Gettleman: He’s a little cranky. He is cranky.
Shurmur: It is kind of a good thing in our sport. A lot of parts in our culture, that is not admired. Certainly in our sport it is something that we value. Cranky is good.
Q: Could he be ahead of the game because in his first four years at UTEP, he had a guy that was an NFL offensive line coach?
Shurmur: Yes, and I think that shows up in his play. You can see that he has been coached pretty well and that certainly starts the process. We talk about guys that can come in and play right away and there are other guys that are developmental. This is a guy that has a really good chance to come in, compete and play very early in his career.
Q: What kind of advantage is it for you to have two more picks tonight that are close together?
Gettleman: The advantage is that they are both at the top of the third. The board is holding up the way I believed it would. I think we are going to have a shot at two pretty good, young and talented players.
Q: How important is it to fill some defensive gaps with these next two picks?
Gettleman: I’m going to go with the board. You just can’t reach. Obviously we would like to balance it out and give the defense some help. They call me crazy, but it is the value of the pick. It is not about numbers. For example, I was with a team back in the past and we cut a wide receiver because the numbers said we needed X amount of receivers. This was when the cut was to 65, back in the day. We cut this kid who was having a damn good camp. We keep this fullback that was slipping, falling and just was not very good. I went into the GM’s office and asked, ‘What are we doing? We sent a better player out of here than the one we are keeping, this makes no sense.’ We talked about it some more and we ended up getting the kid as soon as he got off the plane, we told him to just stay at the gate and get back on the one coming back. The end of the day, the kid got cut and played nine more years in the league.
Q: What was Saquon’s reaction to the pick?
Gettleman: Didn’t you hear that loud scream?
Q: What about Eli Manning’s?
Gettleman: I’m waiting for the text.
MEDIA Q&A WITH WILL HERNANDEZ:
Q: How excited are you to join a Giants team that is showing a focus to the running game, after the selection of Saquon Barkley in the first round?
A: I’m beyond excited. The fact that I get to work with guys like that, it’s like, wow. The Giants all around is just a great, great team. The fan base is amazing. The coaching staff, when I met them on my private visit, was amazing. They were all real cool guys. I’m just excited to be a part of that team.
Q: What was last night like for you, were you expecting to go in the first round?
A: You know what, I always thought to prepare for the worst and expect the best. But honestly, I knew my range was one or two. Honestly, one through seven, I would’ve been fine. As long as I get the opportunity at the end to get picked up by a team, that’s really all that mattered to me.
Q: How hard was going through an 0-13 season last year in college?
A: Oh, it was one of the worst seasons I’ve ever experienced in my life. It taught me a lot, it made me so much stronger. The only thing I want to do is just make sure that never happens to me again because I just want to win. I just want to win games.
Q: Can you talk about your personality on the field?
A: On the field, I’m a completely different person than I am off the field. I take football very seriously. It’s more than a game to me, it’s who I am. So, whenever I get on that field, I take it with all seriousness. Of course, I have fun with it, but with a serious, controlled attitude. And I love playing the game, I love the feeling that it gives me before, during and after, especially after a win. And that’s just me on the field. I take it very seriously, I have fun with it, but that’s me.
Q: What stood out to you during your visit to the Giants facility?
A: The coaching staff. The coaching staff, I think, really got me excited. I got to meet everybody there. Everybody there was just really, really cool and you can tell that everybody there has one common goal, and that’s to win. I love surrounding myself with people like that and I’m just really excited I get to work with them.
Q: Are you more comfortable on the left or the right side?
A: Wherever they decide to put me, that’s where I’ll be. I’m comfortable on both sides. I’ve always practiced it, I always try to do what’s best for the team. I don’t really worry about what’s comfortable and what’s not. I do what my team needs me to do and that’s it.
Q: How ready do you think you will be to play right away?
A: You know what, that’s up to the coaches themselves. Like I said, they’re great coaches, I trust them 100 percent, but if you ask me, I feel like I can play right now. I’m fully confident in myself, but it’s just not up to me, it’s up to everybody. So, whenever the coaches call my name, I’ll be ready.
Q: Was quarterback Eli Manning at the facility when you visited?
A: Yes, he was.
Q: What was your conversation with Manning like?
A: I saw him from afar, didn’t get to meet him personally, but it was crazy to see him in person. He’s an awesome player. Obviously, I know so much about him. I see him all the time and it was just crazy that I was in the same room with him.
Q: Is it also a little crazy that now one of your jobs is to protect Manning?
A: Of course. It’s so much responsibility and ready to go, though. I got him, I got him 100 percent.
Q: Can you reflect on how far you have come from some of the adversity that you faced during high school?
A: Yeah, if you look at my life then and now, it’s completely night and day. I did go through a lot. A lot of it, I can’t complain too much about it because it shaped me into the player I am today and the person I am today. And honestly, I think if I wouldn’t have gone through all that, I don’t know if I’d be here. I’m telling you, it changed me. It changed my mindset, it changed my mentality, it completely made me the player I am. I took all of that and took it out on the field. I don’t wish it on anybody, but I’m thankful that it happened.