Will Hernandez’ New York Giants’ career has not gone as expected.
When the Giants drafted him No. 34 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, GM Dave Gettleman was thrilled:
“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.”
Before you start lambasting Gettleman, which is the easy thing to do with the benefit of hindsight, remember to lambast yourself, too. In a post-draft poll, 4,097 of 4,358 voters (94 percent) gave the pick an ‘A’ grade.
Our Chris Pflum also loved the pick, calling Hernandez “one of the best offensive linemen remaining on the board.” He also wrote this:
Hernandez can do it all out on the football field, be it pass protection, block in the power run game, zone runs or get out in space on screen passes. His arm length might concern some with rigid thresholds there, but he can play.
Things, though, have not worked out for Hernandez with the Giants. If you had to grade his four years, the mark would probably be in the C-/D range.
Hernandez’ rookie contract is now done, and he will be a free agent in March. Should the Giants, needing to rebuild a woeful offensive line, consider Hernandez part of the future? Or, move on because he is part of the failed past?
2021 salary cap hit: $3.057 million
Making the case
I made clear how I feel when I wrote this a few days ago:
“After four frustrating seasons, the Giants can’t bring Hernandez back. It’s disappointing because the Hernandez pick in 2018 was widely praised and he was expected to be an offensive line cornerstone. Instead, he’s been a symbol of that group’s failure.”
Hernandez has been a durable, hard-working player. Aside from a bout with COVID-19 that cost him time and eventually his job in 2020, Hernandez has been there for the Giants every week. In 2018, 2019 and 2021 he played every game.
He just hasn’t played well enough. Hernandez showed promise as a rookie, but the PFF grades he posted in 2018 (62.9 run blocking, 73.1 pass blocking and 67.9 overall) ended up as the best of his four seasons.
His run blocking has never met expectations. His pass blocking seems to have gotten worse instead of better. Despite playing more than 3,600 NFL snaps, he still struggles to read and react to basic defensive line stunts.
Hernandez switched positions from left guard to right guard in 2021. He also spent part of last offseason training with highly-regarded offensive line expert and founder/creator of OL Masterminds Duke Manyweather.
The pair watched tons of film and worked on Hernandez’s movement skills. Hernandez also dropped considerable weight.
It didn’t help. Hernandez surrendered career-worsts in sacks (7), quarterback hits (7), committed a career-worst 8 penalties (after committing 7 in three seasons) and posted the worst PFF score (55.9) of his career.
The Giants have now tried Hernandez at two positions. He has worked with Manyweather, considered the best in the business. Four offensive line coaches — Hal Hunter, Marc Colombo, Dave DeGuglielmo, Rob Sale — have tried to reach him.
It’s time for them to move on and let another team try.