Patriots' 10 best draft steals during the Bill Belichick era

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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10 of the Patriots' best draft steals during the Bill Belichick era

Mike Onwenu - (Round 6, pick 182 in 2020)

Like many of the remaining picks on this list, Belichick tended to really strike gold with players beyond round four, a testament to his eye for talent and unique understanding of all that a player could be based on their tape, no matter how good or bad it might be.

To say they got a steal when drafting Mike Onwenu in 2020 would be an understatement, to say the least, as he has since become the most prominent piece of the Patriots offensive line in the years since.

He earned a new contract this offseason to remain as the team's starting right tackle and was expected to be the most pursued tackle in free agency had he tested the market. But because he's continued to be the most consistent lineman on the team, Jerod Mayo made sure to keep him around longer.

Through four seasons, he's allowed just nine sacks and nine hits on the quarterback, which has seen a lot of turnover in the four year's he's been in Foxboro.

But what is more impressive is his versatility. He plays nearly every position on the offensive line, including left and right guard and right tackle, becoming even more important to the Patriots' offensive roster.

How he fell to the sixth round with this much talent is beyond comprehension, but at least the Patriots were the team lucky enough to get him.

Joe Thuney - (Round 3, pick 78 in 2016)

Coming off the 2015 season, the Patriots were in desperate need of help on their offensive line. The unit had one of the worst years during the Belichick/Brady era mainly due to injuries. But the coaching didn't help the situation, which prompted Belichick to bring back legendary o-line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

The return of Scar was an immediate improvement already, putting Joe Thuney in great hands when New England selected him in the third round of the 2016 Draft.

Although they needed linemen and hoped the North Carolina State alum would be the guy for the job, they didn't anticipate he would be as good as he became.

Thuney immediately became the team's starting left guard his rookie season, playing 100% of the offensive snaps and allowing just four sacks on Tom Brady. He remained as the starter over the next four seasons, becoming a significant part of the offense's success in their two Super Bowl wins.

After a season played under the franchise tag, Thuney ran to the bank and signed with the Chiefs to become a mainstay on Patrick Mahomes' offensive line, helping to win two more Championships.