5. Michael Onwenwu
The Patriots’ offensive success this fall hinges on Michael Onwenwu continuing his impressive development.
The 25-year-old offensive lineman has started 41-of-49 games (83.7%) since the Pats drafted him 182nd overall back in 2020. He was instantly plugged into the starting lineup and hasn’t looked back since then, playing his way to a PFF grade of 84.3 or better in two of his first three seasons.
Even though 2022 was somewhat of a down year for the former Wolverine (79.3 PFF grade), Onwenwu was still better than your Average Joe, allowing only one sack while taking two penalties across 1,044 offensive snaps.
For reference, he’s now allowed just six sacks despite playing over 2,500 snaps. That’s some seriously impressive efficiency.
With his ability to play both guard positions and right tackle, Onwenwu is easily one of the Patriots’ most important players. If he can take another step forward, he’ll also solidify himself as one of the best.
4. David Andrews
Like Onwenwu, David Andrews is an important cog in helping New England’s attack produce results.
Having a reliable center is paramount to any success and that’s exactly who Andrews is. Opposing defenders rarely get by his 6-foot-3, 300-pound frame, resulting in his allowing two or fewer sacks in every single one of his seven NFL seasons.
What’s even more impressive is that Andrews continues to be dominant even though he dealt with a blood clot scare that made him miss the entire 2019 season. He’s played to an average PFF grade of 73.4 since then and just finished with a 74.5 last year.
Andrews is only 31 with a lot of football left in front of him. He’s not showing any signs of slowing down, meaning I fully expect him to be a top-10 center once again.