As the New England Patriots — and the rest of the NFL — begin training camp this week, followers of the league are getting their first glimpse at each team’s new roster in its entirety.
Part of the ever-evolving nature of the NFL is players who come and go, role changes for returning talents, and the page is flipped for those that are trying to increase their contributions to their clubs. Those are all big factors for Patriots offensive lineman Michael Onwenu, who, despite starting only eight games in 2021, made NFL.com’s “All-Under-25 Team.”
Here’s what NFL.com writer Nick Shook had to say about his selection of Onwenu:
New England has made a habit of mining the draft for quality offensive linemen, and this is the most recent find. Let’s turn back to the PFF grades for Onwenu, who finished behind only Joel Bitonio and Zack Martin among all guards in overall offensive grade. The former top-ranked recruit in the state of Michigan wasn’t drafted according to his high school status, but he’s back among the elite now that he’s in the NFL, and he’s only just getting started.
While Shook’s argument can’t be argued — Onwenu did finish third among guards in overall PFF grade — but it isn’t exactly rock solid. PFF grades account for what a player does on the field, but don’t take in to account the amount of time a player spends on the field.
Onwenu played only 58.59% of New England’s snaps in 2021, splitting time between guard and tackle before ultimately being relegated to the sixth offensive lineman role down the stretch. Onwenu started just two of the Patriots’ last nine games, both as an extra blocker.
The hope for Onwenu is he can take over for new Tampa Bay Buccaneer Shaq Mason on the right side and return to his rookie glory where he served as New England’s most impactful offensive lineman. First-round draft pick Cole Strange is expected to start on the left side for the departing Ted Karras.
Based on his play on the field, Onwenu is more than deserving of the honor — it just seems like it may based off what he did two years ago and the possibility of his contributions in 2022 and not the year he just had.