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Patriots sixth-round rookie Michael Onwenu makes Pro Football Focus’ Midseason All-Pro Team

Related: Michael Onwenu has proven himself worthy of filling the Patriots’ vacant right tackle role

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NFL: OCT 25 49ers at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ rookie class has had an up-and-down season so far, with injuries and inexperience both hurting the first-year players at times. There is one notable exception, however: sixth-round draft pick Michael Onwenu, who has started six games and played 450 of a possible 535 offensive snaps so far this season (84.1%) — fourth most on the team behind only Isaiah Wynn (96.6%), Joe Thuney (95.0%) and Damiere Byrd (94.4%).

While his playing time came primarily out of necessity, the youngster has been impressive regardless of where he lined up. Onwenu saw considerable action as a jumbo tight end, in both guard spots, and most recently at right tackle — not bad for a player who was predominately used as a right guard during his college career.

Along the way, he did not just prove himself a quality NFL-caliber offensive lineman but one of the best rookies in the league. Just ask Pro Football Focus, who has named the 22-year-old to both its Midseason All-Pro Team:


Second Team: Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

One of the most surprising players of the 2020 season, Michael Onwenu has been a rookie standout for the New England Patriots despite having to fill in wherever needed along the offensive line.

Onwenu has played significant snaps at three different positions this season — and played well regardless. Only Wyatt Teller — who has missed time injured — and Zack Martin have higher PFF run-blocking grades than the sixth-rounder out of Michigan. And to look as good as he has despite that lack of stability on the line has been remarkable.

While Onwenu being listed as a left guard is a bit curious considering that he played “only” 112 snaps at the position compared to 237 at right tackle, his effectiveness no matter the position cannot be denied. The Michigan man has future starter written all over him, given his impressive outings as both a run blocker and a pass protector — all that despite not having the benefit of a normal offseason workout period or any preseason football.

Onwenu, by the way, is not the only Patriot to be named to the All-Pro Team: right guard Shaq Mason has also made the cut as a second-team selection behind the Dallas Cowboys’ Zack Martin.

Given his nomination for the All-Pro squad it is also not surprising to see Onwenu become New England’s lone first-year player to also make PFF’s Midseason All-Rookie Team:


There’s been no bigger surprise among the rookie class than Onwenu. He’s allowed only six pressures all season long on 242 pass-blocking snaps between left guard, right guard and right tackle. His versatility has been much needed with the injuries along the Patriots’ offensive line, and he hasn’t looked out of place at all. Not bad for a sixth-round pick.

Onwenu’s 482 combined snaps clearly leads all Patriots rookies, followed by second-round selection Kyle Dugger (192) and fellow sixth-rounder Justin Herron (171). While the rest of the first-year talent will need to carve out bigger roles in the future — especially tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, who are currently both on injured reserve — Onwenu appears to be a home run selection and one of the draft’s biggest steals at this point in his career.