EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Will Hernandez stands 6-foot-2, on the smaller side for a guard. He was drafted with the second pick of the second round (No. 34 overall) by the New York Giants. He was described as strong and “cranky,” a compliment in this case, according to coach Pat Shurmur.
It’s a familiar description and story. Fourteen years earlier, when Hernandez was a 9-year-old soccer player in Nevada, the Giants took a cranky 6-foot-2 guard with the 34th overall pick in the draft. That was the selection of Chris Snee, and it’s been brought to Hernandez’s attention.
“I’ve definitely heard about him,” Hernandez said. “I’m trying as much as I can to fill any kind of shoes that I’m expected to. I know that I have a lot of expectations here and I want to fulfill it to 100 percent and the best that I can do.”
As it turns out, Snee developed into one of the best offensive linemen in Giants history. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion.
The feeling is that Hernandez’s comparable skills can translate to a similar result.
“I hope so. Think he has all the potential in the world,” Snee said. “Big guy, can move well and, like I said, he has a mean streak and wants to be physical.”
Snee, who now works as a scout for the Jacksonville Jaguars, says that you can talk with Hernandez and know within two minutes that he likes to hit and wants to be physical. He’s looking to crush the soul of his opponent.
Hernandez takes it as a compliment when people describe the nastiness in his game. And it makes him an ideal piece for the offensive line rebuild under new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman.
“I think No. 1, when you look at what Dave Gettleman says, it says a lot about Will Hernandez. This is a guy who would have fit in our ’07 and ’11 [offensive line] room,” said former Giants offensive lineman and current Fox analyst David Diehl before serving as host of the fourth annual Clara Maass Medical Center Golf Invitational earlier this week. “He’s that type of guy. So No. 1, you know he’s a tough, hard-nosed football player who loves the game and finishes plays not only to but through the whistle. He has technique, fundamentals, consistency and he brings back that dimension of what it means to be a New York Giant offensive lineman.”
Snee certainly fit that description as well. He was a tough grinder who was consistently among the strongest Giants in the weight room.
The Boston College product, who also happened to be Tom Coughlin’s son-in-law, measured 6-2, 314 pounds at the NFL scouting combine in 2004. He flashed his strength with 29 reps in the bench press, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.07 seconds and had an impressive 30 1/2–inch vertical jump.
Snee may have been slightly more explosive than Hernandez but was smaller and less powerful. Hernandez is 6-2, 327 pounds and executed 37 reps on the bench press with a 40-yard time of 5.15 seconds and a 24-inch vertical jump. Comparable but not quite the same.
“Will is bigger, obviously. Will is a natural 320-pound guy,” Gettleman said after the draft. “What made Chris unique is he had great quickness and he was strong as an ox and he was a very good athlete. Comparing Will to him, he is just a bigger guy but, again, strong as an ox and a really good athlete. I vividly remember that day.”
Gettleman and the Giants are hoping that 14 years from now they are speaking the same of the day they drafted Hernandez. He’s potentially the mauling guard their remade offensive line needed.
Hernandez is expected to start at left guard, where he played his entire collegiate career. That likely will push offseason acquisition Patrick Omameh to the right side. The third new face will be left tackle Nate Solder, with Brett Jones back at center and Ereck Flowers or Chad Wheeler at right tackle.
It should be an improved unit given all the changes.
“To be able to bring [Hernandez] in as another addition with No. 1 Nate Solder, which is right away an unbelievable instant upgrade, and the guy people aren’t really talking about -- Patrick Omameh -- is a really good guard,” Diehl said. “So now you pair those four and you have the one position battle at right tackle and you, No. 1, have a competitive offensive line where it’s not about scholarships anymore. And No. 2, you’ve been able to completely change the offense.”
Clara Maass Medical Center Golf Invitational hosted by David Diehl
The event took place on Monday at the Montclair Golf Club. It was hosted by Diehl, and special guests included current and former Giants and other celebrities. They raised $307,000 for pediatric programs and patient services at the medical center in Belleville, New Jersey.