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2018 NFL Scouting Report: Scouting UTEP Guard, Will Hernandez

Could Hernandez reunite with his former UTEP Head Coach in Denver?

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Texas El Paso Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

One prospect who the Denver Broncos have shown interest in and could select on day two of the 2018 NFL Draft is former UTEP guard, Will Hernandez. He is a 6’2”, 348lb offensive lineman who is considered one of the top guards in the entire draft. Hernandez is ranked as the 2nd best guard in the 2018 NFL Draft according to NFL Draft Scout and is ranked as the 23rd overall player in the entire draft.

Hernandez’s awards and accolades from 2017 include 2017 AP All-America Second Team, 2017 CBS Sports All-America Second Team, 2017 All-Conference USA First Team, 2017 AP Midseason All-America Team, 2017 Outland Trophy Preseason, 2017 All-C-USA Preseason Team, 2017 AP Preseason All-American Second Team, 2017 The Piesman Preseason, 2017 Phil Steele’s Preseason All-American Second Team, 2017 Athlon Sports Preseason All-American Second Team, 2017 Preseason All-C-USA Football Team, 2017 Phil Steele’s Preseason All-American, 2017 Phil Steele’s Preseason All-C-USA First Team, 2017 Dave Campbell’s Preseason All-Texas Team, 2017 Athlon Sports Preseason All-American Third Team, and 2017 Athlon Sports Preseason All-C-USA First Team.

Will Hernandez, Senior, UTEP

Height: 6’2” Weight: 348lbs 40 time: 5.15 seconds

Arm Length: 32” Hands: 9 7/8”

Bench Press: 37 reps Vertical: 24 inches Broad Jump: 104.0 inches

3-Cone Drill: 7.59 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.7 seconds

Film Room:

Scouting Report:

Strengths:

  • Is a massive and intimidating man
  • Thick build and carries his bulk well
  • Strong and powerful player
  • Surprisingly athletic for a man of his size
  • A top-notch run blocker
  • Once he gets his mitts on you, you’re done
  • Is a mean son of a bitch who plays through the whistle
  • Aggressive in the trenches
  • Anchors well and rarely gets pushed backward
  • Shows good lateral movement on pull blocks
  • Solid pull blocker who locks on to his target and destroys him
  • Light and quick feet for a man of his size
  • Praised by his Coach(Now Broncos OL coach) for his toughness and preparation
  • Plug and play starter

Weaknesses

  • Kinda short, has shorter arms, and smaller hands than you would like, but he’s a guard so it’s not awful
  • Played majority of his games against low-level competition, but did hold his own against top teams and at the Senior Bowl
  • Interested to see how he fairs against top-notch interior pass rushers who have long arms
  • Only has played left guard so he doesn’t bring positional versatility
  • May need to take his aggressiveness down a notch in the flag happy NFL
  • At nearly 350lbs, he could wear down a bit it in the mile high air

Quotable:

NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler on Will Hernandez from his draft guide.

SUMMARY: A four-year starter at UTEP, Hernandez (and his throwback neck roll) was a stalwart left guard in the Miners’ pro-style scheme the past four seasons, rewarding the program for sticking with him through his academic issues in high school. He has grown into a dominant blocker and a possible first round draft pick, which would be the first for UTEP since 1968. Hernandez has a mammoth body type with 340 pounds neatly packed on his frame and although he lacks ideal hand size or length, he uses his mitts like powerful vice grips to latch-and-control. He needs to stay under control and resist the urge to lunge when going for the knockout blow, but he is surprisingly nimble for a man his size to mirror and recover. Overall, Hernandez needs to introduce a dash of discipline to his game, but he is a smooth-moving mauler as both a run blocker and pass protector and won’t lose many one-on-one battles.

NFL Network’s draft expert Daniel Jeremiah on Will Hernandez who he has ranked as his 21st best player in the draft.

Hernandez has average height and a very thick/square build for the position. He lines up at left guard for the Miners and completely dominates in the run game. He is quick out of his stance and uses his upper strength to torque and dump defenders at the point of attack. He does a nice job of re-working his hands to maintain inside position and maintain leverage. In pass protection, he has the power base to anchor bull rushers and surprising quickness to redirect vs. athletic defenders. He piles up some gnarly knockdowns when he’s uncovered. He’s always looking for extra work. Overall, Hernandez is a tempo setter in the run game and more than adequate in the passing game. He had a great Senior Bowl and combine.

Will Hernandez’s Spider Graph:

Does Will Hernandez make sense for the Broncos in the 2nd round of the draft?

If he is there at 40, which seems unlikely, then hell yes. Hernandez in the second round is much better value than Nelson at 5 in my opinion.

I love Hernandez. He is a bulldog in the trenches would add another element of nasty to the Broncos offensive line. They added it with Bolles last year and would continue with it this year with Hernandez. Pairing him with Leary at guard with Paradis in the middle would give the Broncos one of the better interior offensive lines in the NFL. Add in a hopefully improving Bolles and the veteran Veldheer and the Broncos offensive line should be greatly improved.

The Broncos also did hire former UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler who recruited Hernandez to UTEP so there’s the obvious connection there. Kugler is coaching the Broncos guards and centers so he would have a chance to coach his former player once again.

Now I think it’s unlikely that Hernandez will be there at 40, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Prospects like Forrest Lamp(38th) and Ali Marpet(61st) both went lower than expected so Hernandez could have the same fate as some other small school prospects.