Can Will Hernandez revitalize his Giants career in 2021?

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John Fennelly
·3 min read
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Will Hernandez began the 2020 season as the New York Giants’ starting left guard, having started all 32 games there since being selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft by Big Blue out of Texas-El Paso.

Hernandez started the first seven games last year before testing positive for COVID-19 and spending 12 days on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

When Hernandez was activated from the list on November 10, he found himself out of a job. Rookie Shane Lemieux had made the most of his opportunity and bumped Hernandez to the bench. Lemieux started the final nine games of 2020 at left guard and took the lion’s share of the snaps there for the rest of the year. Hernandez played less than a third of the snaps at left tackle after returning from illness.

When head coach Joe Judge was grilled about Hernandez’ reduced role before the Giants’ season finale against Dallas, his response shed little light on the subject.

“We’re continuing to roll our linemen throughout the game. There hasn’t been a designated snap count on any player going in,” he said. “Look, I’ve let Guge (Dave DeGuglielmo) have some autonomy in terms of as the game gets going, the flow goes, to put in what we think is best for the schemes that we’re running. We check in and we talk continuously throughout the week. The plan is to play all of our guys at the game. It’s always been our plan and to use guys continuously. You saw Matt (Peart) play as well last night. We’ll continue to use Will, and we’ll rotate all three guards going forward.”

True. DeGuglielmo came in midseason and took over the role of offensive line coach and the next thing we all knew, Hernandez was no longer a key cog on the line.

“Look, we base everything here on production, so in terms of who’s playing on what snaps, we may have different guys in different schemes,” said Judge. “There are different times we want to use different guys throughout the game. We put priority on keeping all of our guys fresh, and we’re looking to really develop as many guys as we can. I’d say all three guards, Kevin (Zeitler), Shane and Will, have played well at times. There have been things we want to improve on with our entire unit going across the board. But we’re going to continue to rotate those guys going forward.”

Well, in Week 17, neither Hernandez nor Peart saw the field. Hernandez got the infamous DNP (did not play), meaning he was dressed on the sidelines but did not enter the game.

What does this mean for Hernandez going forward? Do the Giants still see him as the future at left guard? DeGuglielmo is gone now, so maybe the new new O-line coach, Rob Sale, will get back to the original plan at left guard.

If Hernandez has been beaten out by Lemieux, it’s a further indictment of general manager Dave Gettleman’s questionable drafting ability. Hernandez, as a second round selection should not lose his job after two seasons to a fifth round pick. Another example of this franchise spinning its wheels.