Cardinals' OL Will Hernandez receives well-deserved recognition going into 2024

Arizona Cardinals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Arizona Cardinals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

A team can have the most talented quarterback in the league who can make the big plays, but he can only do so much if he does not have solid blocking in front of him. Former Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck was a rising star who led the Colts to consecutive 11-5 records with one of the worst offensive lines in football. He was constantly getting hit or sacked which led to multiple injuries that he suffered throughout his career. Eventually, Luck suddenly retired without any warning before the 2019 season due to the pain he was in from the hits he took in his career.

Kyler Murray from the Arizona Cardinals has been protected well from his second year and on compared to his rookie season. In his first season, Murray was sacked 48 times. Since then, he has not been sacked more than 31 times in a season. While it is still not the greatest number, it is great as compared to other quarterbacks who are constantly getting knocked to the ground. In the last two seasons, offensive guard Will Hernandez has had the task to protect Murray upfront and he was solid last season.

Thomas Valentine from Pro Football Focus ranked the top-32 guards heading into the 2024 season and Hernandez made it onto the list as the 23rd best guard in the league. Hernandez was one of only three guards from the NFC West that made it on the list, in which he was ranked behind Rams’ Kevin Dotson but ahead of Rams’ Jonah Jackson. 

Valentine discussed how Hernandez has become a solid pass blocker since arriving to the Cardinals from the New York Giants. Hernandez earned a grade of 70.2 in pass-blocking which was in the top-15 of last season, according to Valentine.

Heading into a contract year, the Cardinals may want to strongly consider signing Hernandez to another contract extension. He will be 29 years old when the season kicks off and can be a great building block for the Cardinals in the near future to help keep protecting Murray.