It is too early to crown somebody the “Steal of the 2020 NFL Draft,” but New England Patriots offensive lineman Michael Onwenu certainly appears to be the frontrunner in this category. Selected in the sixth-round last April, Onwenu started his pro career as a rotational backup at right tackle but quickly established himself as a viable starting-caliber player at the position — despite never having played it in college.
The Michigan product went on to appear in all 16 of New England’s games — including three as the starting right guard, one as the starting left guard, and 10 as the starting right tackle. Onwenu looked outstanding and thus proved that he is not just an NFL-caliber offensive lineman but also likely a building block for the Patriots’ offensive line for years to come.
As such, he recently earned first-round status in a 2020 redraft. CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso selected the first round of last year’s draft again, and had Onwenu come off the board with the 20th overall selection:
Round 1, Pick 20: Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Onwenu OL: Onwenu is a stocky, immensely powerful blocker who can play multiple positions up front.
In the redraft, Onwenu becomes the fourth offensive lineman to be selected behind real-life first-rounders Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs — a reflection of how well he performed during his rookie campaign in New England.
As for the Patriots, their 23rd overall pick last year did not get traded in this scenario. New England moved back in a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers to pick up additional capital on Day Two, and eventually turned the selections received that way into safety Kyle Dugger and linebacker Josh Uche. Both players showed plenty of promise in Year One, and project to be viable members of the team moving forward.
In the redraft, however, the team stays put and adds to a wide receiver group that certainly would have benefitted from better talent in 2020: New England picks wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who joined the Denver Broncos with the 15th overall pick in real life.