The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most of this year’s pre-draft visits, but some prospects were able to meet with teams before the NFL’s restrictions went into effect.
One of those players was Michigan guard Michael Onwenu, whom the New England Patriots hosted for a private visit, according to a report Friday from SB Nation’s Justin Melo.
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 10, 2020
A three-year starter at right guard for the Wolverines, Onwenu projects as a late-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He didn’t test at the NFL Scouting Combine and had his pro day canceled, but he’s known more for his strength than his athleticism, which NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein called “below average.”
Onwenu’s most notable trait, though, is his size. He’s significantly heavier than most Patriots guards, measuring in at 6-foot-3, 344 pounds at the combine after reportedly weighing upward of 370 earlier in his college career. The 22-year-old was the heaviest guard/center in Indianapolis and the second-heaviest offensive lineman behind Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton (364 pounds).
New England’s interior O-linemen typically weigh between 300 and 310 pounds, with last year’s starting guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason checking in at 308 and 310, respectively. (Reserve guard Jermaine Eluemunor, who is listed at 335 pounds, is a rare exception to that rule.)
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler complimented Onwenu’s power and movement ability in his 2020 NFL Draft Guide:
“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.”
Center Cesar Ruiz, who played next to Onwenu in Michigan’s offensive line, also has been mentioned as a potential Patriots target. Ruiz is a more highly touted prospect, likely to come off the board in the first or second round.
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