The pick is in. Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com selected UTEP guard will Hernandez as the Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft. DiRocco made his selection on Tuesday night during ESPN’s Football Nation Mock Draft.
Judging by the response of fans that I have talk to in the last 12 hours, the selection is a homerun. The Jaguars could add an offensive lineman, tight end, wide receiver or pass rusher to their roster with their first pick. Will Hernandez may be the perfect fit to come in and contribute as reserve and eventual replacement for starting right guard AJ Cann.
With Cann in his final year of his rookie deal, the Jaguars will have to make a decision on the former third-round pick’s future in teal and black.
The Jaguars improved their offensive line this off-season by signing guard Andrew Norwell in free agency from the Carolina Panthers. While the big man gives the left side of the line more size and strength, along with left tackle Cam Robinson, it’s believed the team will continue to strengthen both sides of the football.
Adding beef upfront on offense is the same game plan that Jaguars’ Executive Vice-President Tom Coughlin used in New York with the Giants. Adding bulk to the offensive and defensive live was a staple during the two Super Bowl winning seasons Coughlin enjoyed as head coach in the Big Apple.
Will Hernandez at 6-foot-2 and 327 pounds is a grader who will help with run blocking. He can play both the right and left side of the line, it would be an upgrade from Cann.
Hernandez was impressive at the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine in February. His quick feet, and his power and strength were both something that caught NFL scouts’ attention.
“He is a plus run blocker with the anchor and footwork to handle himself in pass protection as well. Though he lacks height and length teams would like, it shouldn’t hurt his stock much,” writes Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.
The choice of a guard also falls in line with what the Jaguars are trying to do to free agency and the NFL draft – which is to solidify the run game that was successful last season. The Jacksonville Jaguars led the NFL in rushing for 2017, but we’re not as effective in the second half of the season.
Hernandez has been mocked as high as 21st to the Cincinnati Bengals, but with the potential of six quarterbacks being drafted in the first round and depth at the tackle and guard positions, Hernandez could slide to the back end of the draft. This would make Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone very pleased.