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Dave Gettleman explains why the Giants selected Will Hernandez

“He’s exactly what we’re looking for”

NFL: Combine
Will Hernandez
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If you were watching on television, you know that New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman wasted no time making the selection Friday night of UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez at No. 34 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

“One of the great gifts you can get in the draft is when value meets need and we had a solid first round grade on Willie, so we’re thrilled to get him,” Gettleman said. “He’s exactly what we’re looking for. He’s a power blocker, he’s tough, he finishes strong.”

“The kid has pride”

Gettleman noticed how hard Hernandez played despite being on an awful team.

“He played for an 0-13 team last year and if you look at him in game 13, you know the kid has pride, he has a tremendous amount of pride because he played as hard in that game as he played in game one. You know I love the hog mollies and this guy really has a lot of talent. He is a very athletic kid for his size. He can run, he can pull and he plays very smart. I’m thrilled we got him.”

What does a hog molly look like?

Gettleman was asked for a general description of what he looks for in offensive linemen.

“Body range is always great. It is always great to have the body range. In Carolina, you know (Panther G) Trai Turner is only 6-2 and change, but he’s a long armed guy and he’s athletic and powerful. It’s about watching film really and there are plenty of guys that are weight room strong that aren’t game strong and there are guys that you look at and you kind of scratch your head when you put the film on and they play with great power. My point is there are 320-pound guys that can play like they are 290 and there are 300-pound guys that can play 350.

“To me, the biggest thing is you obviously want them to be as athletic as they can be so that they can make all the blocks – you can reasonably expect and you want them to be smart because especially inside, people have this, there’s this thing in scouting, ‘Well, we’ll try him at tackle if he doesn’t work out inside.’ That’s a fallacy. It’s a different game inside, Pat (Shurmur) will tell you, he played there in his career. It’s a different game, it’s happening twice as fast. Basically a tackle or in some schemes, you tell the tackle, ‘You see that guy over there, the defensive end. Just block him all day long and I don’t care what number it is, but you block that defensive end.’ Inside, it is completely different because of the speed, so you’re looking for athletic ability, you’re looking for power, you’re looking for intelligence and instincts because the stuff happens so fast in there that if the kid is not instinctive, he’s going to fail. I’ve seen guys go inside and fail miserably because it was just too fast.”

Where will he play?

Hernandez was a left guard at UTEP. Patrick Omameh, signed as a free agent, played left guard last year and was in that spot during the voluntary mini-camp. Gettleman saud that Omameh has played some on the right, and coach Pat Shurmur indicated that they will try Hernandez on both sides.

“Will is going to play both sides to see where he fits in,” Shurmur said. “He is going to get the same speech that I gave Saquon earlier. I gave him that ‘here is your locker, here is your helmet, here is the field’ speech. He is going to get the same speech.”

Been there, done that

Hernandez is the latest piece in the Giants’ offensive line rebuild. As offensive coordinator. Shurmur was part of a rebuild like this one with the Minnesota Vikings a year ago.

“Eerily similar to a year ago actually. Dave and I were just talking about it and this really wasn’t planned, but it was part of the equation,” Shurmur said. “But, a year ago in Minnesota we went out and got two free agents and then we drafted Pat Elflein, who played center for us and played at a level way above what a rookie would play. This year we went out and got two free agents and now we’ve drafted another offensive lineman and a year ago we brought in Dalvin Cook and we brought in Saquon Barkley.

“I don’t think it was planned that way, but it sort of worked out that way and we’ve got two more picks tonight, so we’ll see what happens. But I do know this, whether you coach offense, you coach defense, it doesn’t matter what position you coach – if you can’t block them, nothing works and so we’ve made obviously an effort here to improve ourselves up front, so all those guys that do the fancy stuff can do their thing.”