Patriots’ Day 3 Pick Tops Buccaneers First-Rounder for Best in Class Recognition

New England Patriots

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Even though he was drafted in the sixth round, Michael Onwenu has become one of the best offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL draft class. Pro Football Focus would go one step forward and say the New England Patriots offensive lineman is actually the best.

Onwenu, 24, was drafted by the Patriots with the 182nd overall pick. He has appeared in 32 games (24 starts) and will look to be a key part of New England’s frontline in 2022.

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With his performance in those 32 games, Onwenu (88.5 PFF grade) has been graded as the best offensive lineman to come out of his draft class, topping Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-rounder Tristan Wirfs (87.5).

What Will Onwenu’s Role be in 2022?

Onwenu will have some big shoes to fill this upcoming season. After the Patriots traded Shaq Mason, the starting right guard slot seems to be his for the taking.

Mason left New England as arguably the best member of the offensive line. Now he will be protecting Tom Brady down in Tampa Bay. With the Patriots failing to get a significant haul in return for the fourth-round selection, many fans were left puzzled.

But it appears that New England has confidence in Onwenu and the rest of the offensive line. Making a move such as the Mason trade wouldn’t have happened if that wasn’t the case.

Onwenu will be paired up with Isaiah Wynn on the right side of the line. Both of these young players will have to do their job on every play if the Patriots’ offense wants to be successful.

How Important Is the Patriots Offensive Line in 2022?

The success of New England’s offense hinges on the play of the big boys up front this upcoming season. With Josh McDaniels gone, the Patriots will have a new-look offense. Early on in the season, there could be some stumbles and plays could take longer to develop than they are used to.

New England also has Mac Jones entering his second year under center for the Pats. While Jones is coming off an impressive start to his career, leading the league in passing touchdowns by a rookie (22), he will also have to adjust to a new offense. If Onwenu and the rest of the offensive line are getting beat on every play, it’s hard to expect Jones to do well and the QB could stumble instead of continuing to grow in 2022.

The offensive line is also expected to perform well. Pro Football Focus ranked New England’s offensive line as the seventh-best in the entire NFL landing in the tier of offensive lines that have a high floor.

“The Patriots personify the “high floor” aspect of this tier,” wrote Michael Renner. “Four of their five offensive line starters have proven to be solid over the course of their NFL careers. Cole Strange is the one possible pain point, as he’s making the leap from FCS to the NFL. Going from Shaq Mason to a rookie could be a rocky transition for New England.”

Expectations will also be high for Onwenu but if he continues to perform at the same level, Patriots fans will be more than happy.

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