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Patriots rookie comparisons: Michael Onwenu, guard

Related: Patriots rookie comparisons: TE Devin Asiasi

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Florida v Michigan Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In an effort to put an end to the long-standing question of “Who does he remind me of?” Keagan Stiefel has compiled a list of player comparisons for the New England Patriots’ 2020 draft class. Each will get a pro comparison and a comparison to a current or former Patriot. Now, these rookies are not necessarily going to become those that they are compared to, but they share similarities in terms of playing style.

In recent years the Patriots have taken time in the draft to solidify their strengths. Last year alone, they took Damien Harris and Joejuan Williams. to add to two of their most talented and established position groups. This year, they did something similar by drafting safety Kyle Dugger and a behemoth guard, Michael Onwenu.

The Player

  • Michael Onwenu
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 350 lbs

Onwenu will move the man in front of him. The 350-pound guard knows how to use his frame and has the ability to power through defensive linemen. He played mostly on the right side in college, which is where he projects in New England as well. The Patriots like having that bulldozer type at right guard, having employed players like Shaq Mason, Stephen Neal, and Brian Waters during head coach Bill Belichick’s reign. All are big, burly guys who use their power and size as an advantage.

Pro Comparison

  • Jordan Simmons
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 339 lbs

Onwenu and Simmons have one big thing in common: nastiness. Both guys are violent at the point of attack and show a good ability to stay engaged in their blocks. You can see that here:

Though they do in the run game, neither guy excels in pass protection. This is a major reason why Simmons hasn’t been able to find a home in the starting group in Seattle. Both men struggle with their technique, mainly when it comes to footwork. More often than not, you will find their feet within their shoulders, a big time no-no for offensive lineman.

Simmons is much more refined at the second level, though. He has quicker feet than Onwenu and can keep a wide base while finding a block while moving down the field. Onwenu, at least coming out of college, struggles with that.

Despite some discrepancies in their games — something that comes with different levels of experience — I see Simmons as a template of what Onwenu can become at the next level for New England.

Patriot Comparison

  • Damien Woody
  • Position: Center/Guard
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 330 lbs

(First and foremost, it is impossible to find non-NFL Films footage of the early 2000’s NFL so you will have to take my word on this one.)

In terms of size, Onwenu has the weight advantage. He weighed in at 350 pounds at the Scouting Combine and according to his offensive line coach at Michigan “doesn’t have much weight to lose.”

Woody mostly played center in New England but moved to guard in his final year and stayed there throughout the rest of his career. Another mauling type, he made a name for himself in the run game. The thing I see most in common between the two is their initial punch. Both guys used it prominently in their pass set to overpower defensive linemen. Woody’s footwork is better than Onwenu’s, though. He never had particularly quick feet, but he was good about keeping a base — something Onwenu has struggled with.

Early in his career, Onwenu has the ability to be a solid backup in New England. Right now, however, he just doesn’t have the footwork and consistency in pass protection to be a viable option to start. Luckily, the Patriots employ two very good guards in Mason and Joe Thuney who they hope can stick around for a long time.