Do you like your offensive linemen to be massive mountains of muscles, plowing through defensive linemen with all the strength they can fit behind their shoulder pads and neckroll? Do you want to see the Lions switch over completely from a zone scheme to a man/gap scheme? That’s a bit more of a stretch, but if they did make that kind of a radical switch, they’d need someone to shore up the left side of their interior quickly, and Will Hernandez from UTEP might be the best power blocker in the draft. Hernandez is also one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft in terms of where he should be picked.
Will Hernandez says he’s met formally (or will meet tonight) with the Lions.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) March 1, 2018
With the Detroit Lions’ recent hiring of offensive line coaches Jeff Davidson and Hank Fraley, many fans, sick of how pathetic the Lions run game has been the past four seasons, have latched onto the idea that the days of zone blocking are gone and the days of man blocking have returned! Power run games for everybody! The truth is a lot less exciting for those wanting change for change’s sake, but it’s a genuinely exciting time to scout players for the team.
Matt Patricia’s focus on multiple fronts isn’t just a defensive thing, and while Jeff Davidson was primarily known to run a zone based scheme in Minnesota, he has said himself that he prefers to use different schemes in different situations to keep teams guessing. While that, along with the retention of Jim Bob Cooter’s passing game, means the team isn’t abolishing all of their zone blocking plays and scheme design, it does mean that they’re going to take a different approach to personnel acquisition on the line and guys like Hernandez are on the table.
Pass Pro Rep of the Week? Our analysts like this one where Will Hernandez of UTEP decided to take the defensive player out of the rep! pic.twitter.com/92552KZaH0— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 26, 2018
Will Hernandez is a mean, angry blocker who is generally technically sound and more athletic than most men his size. That said, his size is not typically full of great athletes, and the NFL Combine will be important to show if he has the movement skills to play in a zone based scheme. Whether or not he has the physical ability to play in a scheme that’s more demanding of his movement skills than his power could determine whether we’re looking at a late first, early-round pick or a third rounder.
In any event, the Lions are unlikely to be looking into someone like Will Hernandez so closely if they don’t consider him a viable target with the picks they have, and should he fall to their second-round selection, he would be about as perfect of a pick as you can get in terms of value and early career impact.