One member of the New England Patriots’ 2020 draft class finds himself on the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie team.
The PFWA announced Tuesday that Mike Onwenu has secured a guard spot on the first-year roster next to the Seattle Seahawks’ Damien Lewis.
Onwenu, 23, arrived in the sixth round last April at pick No. 182 overall. The 6-foot-3, 350-pound Michigan product went on to start all 16 games during the regular season for New England. Onwenu got the nod at eligible tight end, left guard, right guard and right tackle over that span.
His 926 snaps finished behind only the franchise-tagged Joe Thuney’s 979 on the Patriots.
“Mike’s a hardworking kid,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in November. “He takes coaching well. Whatever you ask him to do, he tries very hard to do it and is a real smart kid that can correct mistakes and pick things up the second time around. It might be something he hasn’t seen that he doesn’t maybe react to as quickly to the first time, but after he’s seen it and after he’s had a chance to gain some experience – which he’s gained a lot of experience both playing guard and tackle – his awareness and physicality, technique. Just he’s a good football player and he’s shown the versatility to play two different spots – guard and tackle – which, in this league, as a rookie, different sides of the line, it’s really been impressive.”
Pro Football Focus attributed three sacks, one quarterback hit and 10 hurries to Onwenu. His pass-blocking and run-blocking grades qualified for eighth among the NFL’s tackles while his offensive grade of 84.3 led all rookie linemen.
Jedrick Wills Jr. of the Cleveland Browns and Tristan Wirfs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned All-Rookie honors from the PFWA at tackle. Lloyd Cushenberry III of the Denver Broncos joined the group of five at center.
On Monday, the Patriots were represented by punter Jake Bailey and punt returner Gunner Olszewski on the All-AFC and All-NFL teams. Both special-teamers had earned first-team All-Pro selections from the Associated Press as the calendar turned to January.