Brock Huard’s 2018 NFL Draft preview: UTEP G Will Hernandez
Each day, Brock Huard is profiling a different draft prospect that he considers an early-round possibility for the Seahawks. His draft previews continue with UTEP G Will Hernandez. The audio is embedded above.
• Position: G
• Height/weight: 6-2, 348
• Class: Sr.
• Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Scouting report: After redshirting in 2013, Hernandez started every single game at left guard from 2014-17 at the University of Texas at El Paso. Hernandez was the first UTEP athlete to receive back-to-back AP All-America honors (2016, 2017). Despite the Miners’ winless 2017 season, Hernandez has garnered plenty of attention from NFL scouts. His playing style has drawn comparisons to Richie Incognito, and he is generally considered to be one of the best guards in this year’s draft class.
Brock’s take: “This is your quintessential guard: 6-2, 348, and one powerful, mean and angry football player. I first noticed him on a Friday night game… and UTEP was awful. Arguably the worst program in college football. 0-12 last year, fired their coach… and the only thing [the analysts] could do was highlight one football player that night. And that football player was Will Hernandez, who was an absolute animal. And once your eyes actually watch a guard play, you watch him pile drive and annihilate people. And then you watch him at the combine, number one among the offensive linemen, benching 37 reps of 225, paying off everything you’ve seen on the field with unbelievable strength. And then you see him at the Senior Bowl, most importantly. That is where he became a first-round pick. Because the big man moves better than you would anticipate. At 350 pounds [he] was one of the top seven guys when it came to the three cone drill.
“I’m reminded a little bit of Daniel Jeremiah, of where he said he failed over the last 10 years as he’s projected guys. He said with offensive linemen and guard in particular, he took for granted the ability to anchor. When you’re in that space from guard to guard, you have to have an anchor, you have to be able to just plant your feet and no matter what force is coming at you, punch it right in the face and stop it… this guy comes in and he anchors right away.
“And to answer the inevitable question, do I take him at 18? I don’t take him at 18. But if [you trade down and] you’re sitting there at 22, do you consider Will Hernandez — a guy who’s going to solidify everything you want, going to fit with Mike Solari who’s going to run the power run game, who’s going to provide some punch, who’s actually going to give Russell Wilson a pocket and space around him? And oh, you’ve got to block Aaron Donald.”
How he’d fit: The Seahawks have ranked near the bottom of the league in offensive line play for a couple years. Second-year OL Ethan Pocic will presumably take over at left guard in place of Luke Joeckel, and Seattle signed right guard D.J. Fluker in free agency to help boost the run game. However, this is a unit that could always use more depth. And as Huard noted, Fluker is only signed to a one-year deal. Drafting Hernandez could add depth on the line and a future option at left guard (should Pocic be moved to tackle).