Now, there are several New York Giants offensive lineman that we could coin as absolute steals, but the specific one we are going to dive into is second-round pick Will Hernandez.
The former UTEP standout lineman has had a stellar rookie campaign with the Giants, earning high grades throughout the season and improving with every passing game.
Where does Will Hernandez rank among the rookie offensive lineman?
According to Pro Football Focus, Hernandez is the fifth-best rookie offensive lineman this season, which is impressive considering the lack of continuity on the Giants and their current record. He was put in a position to fail, and he’s worked hard to become one of the better guards on the team and even in the NFC East.
The players in front of him are first-round picks Mike McGlinchey (49ers) and Quenton Nelson (Colts), followed by Braden Smith (Colts) and Ravens guard Orlando Brown Jr.
Brown was actually one of the players that slipped in the draft after concerns of his strength came into play after a dismal combine performance. Hernandez seemed to be a sure-thing early in the second, as he slipped just out of the first-round. Thus far, the bullish guard has proven a point – adversity is only a hurdle and clearing it was just a matter of time.
Hernandez and his family endured trying times before he eventually turned pro. They lived in a shack in his uncle’s backyard for some time – a place where Hernandez couldn’t even stand completely upright at 6-foot-3.
“I think I’m improving every single week. I just keep learning and learning from all of these vets, and I think every week I’m just a little bit better. I feel like it’s been a steady progress,” Hernandez said after practice Friday. “I feel like the biggest adjustment, especially at the beginning of the season, was just the speed of the game. A lot of little techniques and moves were kind of the same as in college, but everything was a lot faster, especially how fast you have to think about things in your head.”
Hernandez and $62 million left tackle Nate Solder have solidified their chemistry gradually over the course of the season. The first few weeks saw Solder struggle, but now he’s playing at an elite level – one that the Giants are paying him to reach. His chemistry with Hernandez is essential to the protection of Eli Manning and the continuity of the line.
How has the New York Giants’ offense been performing as of late?
Hernandez has been at the forefront, quietly, of a monster offensive resurgence. In the past four games, the Giants’ offense has averaged 130.5 rushing yards and 29 points. Manning has been sacked 10 points during that time frame, which isn’t ideal, but the run game has picked up speed. It’s also fair to mention Manning’s lack of mobility which often contributes to his sack totals. The scary part is that 10 sacks over the most recent four-game span is actually an improvement.
Moving forward, I would expect Hernandez to continue developing and growing as a legitimate starter in the NFL. The experience from this season has been significant and should propel him to an even better one next year.
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