The New York Giants drafted left guard Will Hernandez in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, a fantastic selection that’s already paying dividends on the offensive line. With a year of experience and chemistry alongside left tackle Nate Solder, the Giants are in good shape moving forward.
Hernandez, a mauler in college, brought his tenacious mentality to the NFL and has proved he’s capable against premium interior defenders. His ability to stand tall and use his strength to anchor defensive lineman is impressive, and it’s only going to get better as he progresses.
NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger advocated for Hernandez, stating that Saquon Barkley was aided in his success by the Las Vegas native. Without his big frame and ability to push interior lineman backward, Barkley wouldn’t have had the breakthrough he enjoyed in 2018.
Improving in his second season won’t only benefit Barkley, but it will also provide quarterback Eli Manning with more time to throw the ball and move through his progressions. This is an issue Manning has faced in recent years with a lackluster offensive line. Having Ereck Flowers at left tackle and Justin Pugh at left guard does not even closely resemble the pairing of Solder and Hernandez.
The New York Giants grabbed a steal in Will Hernandez:
According to PFF, Hernandez was the 21st ranked guard last year, earning a grade of 65.8. Of 79 guards who logged a minimum of 300 snaps, Hernandez ranked 26th in pass-blocking, yet he wasn’t as proficient in the run game to start the year. He finished with a 60 overall-grade in the category. However, Hernandez was productive in his rookie season, and Baldinger noticed his dominance on film.
.@Giants @saquon @willhernandez76 struck GOLD with their first 2 picks last year. I don’t know if Saquon gets 2000 yards and ROY w/o Hernandez. Building blocks for a long time to come. When you need a yard get your kicks on Route #76. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/KTDIocdKbx
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) June 16, 2019
“Watch him take his defensive lineman off the ball and onto his back. When you do that in the middle of a defensive line, you create softness. Watch how square he is, watch the footwork, watch the hands and watch the fit. You can put a refrigerator on his back. He’s walking it off,” Baldinger says.
While some might disagree with the approach general manager Dave Gettleman has taken towards rebuilding the roster, there’s no question he has improved the offensive line significantly.