The New England Patriots traded up in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft to select Michigan offensive guard Michael Onwenu.
Onwenu, who is 6’3 and 350 lbs, is often misperceived as being less of an athlete and not as agile as some of the other players at his position due to his large mass and heavy weight. But the people who believe that perspective in regards to Onwenu are completely wrong.
Don’t let Onwenu being a sixth-round draft pick determine your final judgement on his ability to control the offensive line for a football team.
While at Michigan, he became a four-year letterman and a three-year starter along the offensive line. He also played on special teams and defense during his freshman season.
Although he didn’t run the 40-yard-dash at the NFL scouting combine, Onwenu understands how to move his body and is impressively quick for a man of his size. He also understands how to use his hands and get his defender on the ground, as he led Michigan in knockdowns.
Michigan’s O-line coach thinks highly of Onwenu being drafted by the Patriots
NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry recently had Michigan’s offensive line coach Ed Warinner on an episode of his Next Pats Podcast to gain more of an insight on New England’s newest and biggest addition to their offensive line in Onwenu.
Here’s what Warinner had to say about his former pupil:
"“He has versatility. He’s not one-dimensional or a run game only guy. He can pass protect well. I think he has a high ceiling. All the skills he’s going to need to be successful, he has.His power is number one. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can move people, but he knows how to translate his power to the ground. He can move people one-on-one. I have a saying in my O-line room: ‘If you can move a man against his will, that’s the toughest job in football.’ There are a lot of things that people think are tough, but moving a man against his will when he doesn’t want to be moved – that takes a grown-ass man, and Mike can do that.Number two: He’s much better at footwork and moving direction than you think.And number three: When he hits you, he is so strong that when he hits you, he knocks people around … he’s exceptional at that.”"
After listening to Warinner praise Onwenu on the podcast — and also after watching some of Onwenu’s game film from 2019 — his athletic ability for a man of his size is what is most impressive and exciting about his future with the Patriots.
It’s worth bringing up that Onwenu is one of the most unique offensive linemen on the roster. Although he is shorter than most of his teammates along the offensive line by a few inches, Onwenu (350 lbs) still outweighs them all:
- Marcus Cannon (335 lbs)
- Jermaine Eluemunor (335 lbs)
- Shaq Mason (310 lbs)
- Isaiah Wynn (310 lbs)
- Yodny Cajuste (310 lbs)
- Hjalte Froholdt (310 lbs)
- Joe Thuney (308 lbs)
- Korey Cunningham (305 lbs)
- Najee Toran (305 lbs)
- David Andrews (300 lbs)
- Dustin Woodard (291 lbs)
- Justin Herron (290 lbs)
Taking it one step further, the only offensive lineman the New England Patriots have had in recent years that weighs more than Onwenu was Trent Brown (6’8, 380 lbs).
Another factor that Warinner expressed to Perry while on his Next Pats Podcast that I found interesting was the extra emphasis on the amazing athleticism that Onwenu brings to the table in New England:
"“His athletic ability allows him to do any job description. You can’t let how much he weighs — because his body fat is not high — his mass, he’s just massive. His bone and muscle mass is just tremendous. People say ‘Oh just lose 50 lbs,’ but Mike can’t lose 50 lbs, he doesn’t have 50 lbs to lose. I’d imagine he’ll play at about 355-360 [lbs].”"
Perry also mentioned that he believes if it came down to only keeping one backup guard on the offensive line for the final roster, Onwenu has what it takes to beat out Froholdt (fourth-round draft pick in 2019) for that spot.
All in all, Onwenu is a great addition for the New England Patriots … and he could realistically see playing time during his rookie year this season.