Who Will Draft Former UTEP Standout Will Hernandez?
Former standout UTEP guard Will Hernandez is on pace to becoming the first Miner drafted during the first round in 50 years.
At worst, if Hernandez is drafted at the top of the second round, he will be the highest drafted former Miner since the late Thomas Howard, who was chosen sixth in the second round of the 2006 draft to the Raiders.
So where does he land? Out of the 32 teams, about 26 at minimum could use some help on the line.
Although no linemen were selected in the first round in 2017, and only two in 2016, which were both late in the draft, it's evident that this is a lineman-heavy draft that calls for early picks.
Another chip Hernandez has to carry on him is the weight of coming from an 0-12 team, which signifies him as one of the top underdogs in this draft.
Here are some destinations for Hernandez:
Seattle Seahawks - (1st round, 18th overall)
The Seahawks obviously need some help on the line, and although they have guard spots full, they could option Hernandez to a tackle spot. It just depends on what direction Seattle wants to go in. If they want a lineman, Hernandez might be the best available, but if they want to fill the vacancy of Richard Sherman, they might go with a defensive back.
Dallas Cowboys - (1st round, 19th overall)
Here's a stretch for the Cowboys, who want to draft a wide receiver or a run stopper on defense. But if the Cowboys draft Hernandez on the line, it can help add depth to their offensive front.
Detroit Lions - (1st round, 20th overall)
The Lions are seeking their biggest necessity right now at the tight end position and some holes to help them fill at linebacker. Those two spots can be filled down the draft line in the second or third rounds. Year after year the Lions haven't been able to be a consistent running team, which in part is due to the lack of help on the offensive line. We've seen Hernandez pave ways for the likes of Aaron Jones, which would make him a great fit in Detroit.
Cincinnati Bengals - (1st round, 21st overall)
In the offseason, the Bengals traded for tackle Cordy Glenn, but they still need some major help on the line, especially coming from a team that averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last year. With Cincinnati, Hernandez would be a filler at any position on the line and his exceptional run blocking makes him an even better fit.
Buffalo Bills - (1st round, 22nd overall)
Richie Incognito announced his retirement weeks ago, so there's obviously some filling to do on the offensive front for the Bills. The Las Vegas native in Hernandez would have to travel a ways to Buffalo, but he would see immediate playing time with this AFC East team.
New England Patriots - (1st round, 23rd, 31st overall)
Who knows what New England will do with their first two picks in the draft, but they definitely need more protection for an aging Tom Brady this season. An interior linebacker and a safety might be more imperative, but a lineman like Hernandez is a possibility within these two picks.
Carolina Panthers - (1st round, 24th overall)
The Panthers need an answer at wide receiver, but Carolina might not like its options early in the draft. So, Hernandez can prove to be the guard-tackle flexible option that they need to rotate into their offensive front.
Tennessee Titans - (1st round, 25th overall)
The Titans need a consistent and strong guard desperately, but do they see an immediate fit with Hernandez at the position? Last year, they drafted wideout Corey Davis in the first, but this year they might take the defensive route and take a pass-rusher late in the first round.
New Orleans Saints - (1st round, 27th overall)
Jermon Bushrod is one of the sharpest players on the offensive line, who can groom a young guard like Hernandez under his wing to emerge as a top-tier lineman. But New Orleans has other things to worry about, like improving their receiving group. This first round pick is interesting for the Saints, especially with an older Drew Brees on hand.
Jacksonville Jaguars - (1st round, 29th overall)
Adding Andrew Norwell to the offensive line means that the Jaguars need a lineman to place at either tackle spots. Hernandez could take significant reps here if he was selected, but the Jaguars might be eyeing a wideout late in the first, or a linebacker due to Paul Posluszny retiring this offseason.
Minnesota Vikings - (1st round, 30th overall)
There are a lot of holes on the offensive line for the Vikings. Getting a first round lineman isn't just a possibility for Minnesota, but a necessary move for the team, especially after signing Kirk Cousins. If Hernandez is still available on the boards at this point, drafting him would be their best choice by far.
Cleveland Browns - (2nd round, 33rd overall)
The retirement of Joe Thomas leaves a void on the line for Cleveland to fill. With the first pick on the second day, the Browns should get Hernandez, who at this point would be the best available candidate.
New York Giants - (2nd round, 34th overall)
Saying that Hernandez drops this far down, he would be a significant steal for the Giants, who need some run blocking help up front. If New York selects running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2, Hernandez would be the complimentary piece to create opportunities for Barkley in the run game.