The New England Patriots need a ton of help on the offensive line after the departure of Ted Karras via free agency.
To compound matters, there is also the uncertain future of center David Andrews who dealt with blood clots in 2019, and indeterminacy surrounding the franchise-tagged Joe Thuney.
Just before the world was altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Patriots met with massive Michigan guard and 2020 draft prospect Michael Onwenu, per SBNation’s Justin Melo.
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Onwenu is a Huge Physical Presence on the Offensive Line
In college at Michigan, Onwenu weighed more than 370 pounds, and he performed well despite being a bit overweight at 6’3.”
Recognizing the need to get leaner, Onwenu adopted a better conditioning regimen. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler said this about Onwenu:
After tipping the scale over 370 pounds in Ann Arbor, he made a concerted effort to change his diet and transform his body, which directly affected his movements and uptick in energy on the practice field. Despite the excessive weight, Onwenu doesn’t play sloppy with smooth movements and natural power, driving defenders from the spot with his physical grip. He will get top-heavy at times and needs to develop his sustain skills once he connects. Overall, Onwenu might require an adjustment period in the NFL to improve his timing and hand placement, but his mauling strength and body control make him a draft-and-develop candidate for a power-based scheme.
Onwenu’s Career at Michigan
Onwenu was a three-year starter at Ann Arbor, which is pretty significant in itself. The Michigan program has been notorious for producing top-notch offensive line prospects.
Onwenu could be the next in line as he heads to the NFL.
What Scouts Say About Onwenu
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein considers Onwenu a late-round selection, which might be right up the Patriots’ alley considering they have 12 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Powerful and wide, Onwenu’s natural play strength is somewhat offset by his below-average athletic ability. With better hand placement and attention to footwork, he can take a step forward as a drive blocker with the ability to move bodies around, but he’ll be a scheme-specific prospect who could struggle against quick, upfield players and sub-package rushers. He has backup guard ability and potential as a Day 3 pick.
Onwenu’s growth could be significant from his last year to his rookie season in the NFL, and his commitment to fitness might be the biggest reason he may be a sleeper.
What the Patriots Have at Guard
If the Patriots trade Thuney, which is a real possibility, the depth at guard could become a major issue. Onwenu doesn’t seem like a prospect a team would turn to as an early starting option, but he could at the very least, be a great developmental talent to add to the Patriots’ roster.
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