UTEP’s Will Hernandez Continues to Impress
Of course the big talk nationally was Saquon Barkley. I mean that guy put on one of the greatest combines of all time. Coming in at 6 foot, 233 pounds, it's insane to think Barkley put up 29 reps on the bench, then went and ran a 4.40 40-yard dash.
Some of the other talk was also about Orlando Brown. The offensive lineman out of Oklahoma might have had the worst combine of all time. While some of his poor numbers don't mean a whole lot at his position, it does make teams question his desire to play football.
One offensive lineman that vaulted up people's draft boards was UTEP's Will Hernandez. I saw a mock draft about a month ago that had Hernandez falling to the third round, with the New England Patriots taking him. I was more than happy about this. Well, Hernandez should be very happy after the combine this weekend as there are a lot of people who have him graded as a potential first round pick now.
If Hernandez is taken in the first round, it would be something that has become very rare. Guards don't command the dollars quite like the tackles do, and they don't run the offensive line quite like the centers do. Case in point, zero guards were taken in the first round last year, and only 2 (28 and 31) were taken in 2016.
“I definitely think they’re starting to value guards and interior linemen more,” Hernandez told reporters at the NFL Combine on Thursday. “I’ve heard it from teams themselves. I think it’s starting to even out a little bit between tackle and guard.”
Offensive lineman have become some of the hardest players to draft because the systems and talent is more watered down in college. Just look at Orlando Brown. There's a lot of talk now that he isn't as god as people thought, and he was just bigger than most of the guys he was trying to block in college.
Hernandez credits his former coach Sean Kugler for helping him hone his craft.
“He’s one of the main reasons that I’m standing right here right now,” Hernandez said of his old coach, who got fired in the midst of 2017’s disastrous season. “He taught me everything from football as it should be played with a mean streak, coming off the ball every play, to actual technique and improving my craft. He improved me in every way, physically, mentally, technically, so I’m very thankful to Coach Kugler.”
Where will Hernandez land in the draft? I'm hoping somewhere in the first round (maybe pick 31 to the Pats?), but it wouldn't be the absolute end of the world if he landed somewhere in the second round. Guess we'll just have to wait for April 26th from AT&T Statdium to find out.