Hernandez a Huge Key to Giants Running Game

If the New York Giants are going to be able to run the ball this year, it will in no small part be due to the effort of rookie guard Will Hernandez.

A second-round pick in this past April’s draft, Hernandez is a gift to the Giants ground game that already took running back Saquon Barkley second overall.

[Read: Giants Return to Identity With Strong Draft]

While Barkley is a luxury, a truly elite talent who should be able to help a running attack that has been among the worst in the league the past few seasons, it is Hernandez who will be counted on to do the dirty work in the trenches.

A true bulldog, Hernandez played under the radar at UTEP but stood out at the NFL Combine and in workouts. On tape, he has a nasty streak and he practices that way, even scuffling with nose tackle Damon Harrison in minicamp.

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur talks with the media about the fight that took place between Damon Harrison and Will Hernandez on the final day of minicamp.

He is a new piece – and an exciting one at that – for an offensive line that underwent a badly needed reshuffling and revamping this offseason. And he’s already fitting in nicely.

“I feel like I’ve known these guys for a long time in the short period we have known each other,” Hernandez said Monday following training camp. “They’ve treated me like I was one of them. They started guiding me and showing me the ropes right away and started the teaching process with me.”

[Complete Coverage of Giants Training Camp]

The rookie guard then went on to address the learning curve in the NFL.

“The speed has definitely changed. It’s just shown me that I have to pick it up. The game speed is going to be a lot faster. You have to be able to do all your progressions through your head and all your footwork at a lot faster pace.”

Tabbed as a possible late first-round pick, Hernandez was a steal for the Giants early in the second round when he fell to them at No. 34 overall.

He checked off a major need in the interior of the offensive line and he significantly upgraded the position as well. He is a building block piece at guard for years to come.

And he brings some intensity to the line, including that aforementioned scuffle with the massive Harrison, a player who should have been a Pro Bowl selection over the last three years but continues to be under-appreciated throughout the league.

Hernandez said that going up against a player as talented as Harrison is helping him develop. But, they never talked about their very minor scuffle last month.

“Stuff happens sometimes. We’re competing,” Hernandez said. “The offensive line and defensive line both want to do well every practice. Things happen, but after they happen, we brush it away, let it go and keep on practicing the way we should.”