New England Patriots massive rookie offensive lineman Michael Onwenu is proving to be another gem in the sixth round and the team’s best draft pick.
In the four games to-date in the Patriots lukewarm start to the season, Onwenu has excelled.
The offensive guard has been a master of versatility as Bill Belichick and the offensive staff have utilized his talents at three positions thus far in the first four games of the season. He has played at right tackle, left guard, and most recently at right guard for New England’s offense. That’s an already impressive resume for the young lineman.
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Demonstrating his excellence, WEEI radio notes Onwenu’s most recent achievement as outlined by Pro Football Focus:
"He then got the start at right guard against the Chiefs in Week 4 and had an even better game. He finished the night with a PFF grade of 91.3, producing top-five marks among guards in Week 4 in both run-blocking (87.3) and pass-blocking grade (88.8). This not only gives him the highest PFF season grade by a rookie this year; it also gives him the second-highest PFF grade among all linemen."
That’s high praise from the well-respected NFL statistical operation. And it’s well-deserved. Onwenu has stepped in from game one and been an effective participant on a Patriots’ offensive line that has sorely needed the reinforcement due to injury. And Onwenu’s a big reinforcement.
At 6’3″ tall and about 344 (or so) pounds, he’s a massive obstacle for any defensive lineman. As for Onwenu versus a linebacker or defensive back, it’s just unfair. Pancake blocks are a specialty of No. 71. When he falls on a defensive lineman, they going nowhere.
There’s no doubt Michael Onwenu could probably step in with great adroitness at center or even left tackle if called upon by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Talented and tremendously versatile, that’s a welcome combination in a first-round draft pick. Coming from a sixth-rounder, it’s undeniably huge.
Onwenu’s potential importance to the team was highlighted not long after the draft. He made great sense as a pick in an area that the Patriots sorely needed depth and he has proven to be as good as it gets according to some NFL observers thus far.
Coupled with his former Michigan teammate, Chase Winovich, who is arguably the Patriots’ best defensive player this season at this point, the Michigan duo is beginning to put the NFL on notice that the Maize and Blue guys on the Patriots roster mean business.
The New England Patriots youth is emerging
In all, Michael Onwenu is already getting noticed as a rookie on offense and Chase Winovich is an emerging star on the edge for New England’s defense.
In addition to these former Michigan stars, don’t count out another former teammate of theirs, Patriots’ second-round pick, edge player Josh Uche. He has been out on injured reserve this season-to-date, but when he returns, he could be the best pure pass-rusher on the team. Hopefully, that return will be soon.
The Patriots can ill-afford to fall further behind (they two games out at present) the not-too-surprising Buffalo Bills or the AFC East title will be a foregone conclusion for the Bills.
Uche’s return to health will help the pass rush immensely. Meanwhile, Onwenu will continue to be an emerging bedrock on the offensive line and Winovich will continue to improve and help lead the defense.
All-in-all, things are looking up for the Michigan alums on the New England Patriots. Hopefully, they will draft several more in the 2021 draft. After all, their best draft pick ever also came from Michigan on the 199th pick of the 2000 draft, a fellow named Tom Brady.