The New England Patriots will need all the young talent they can get, and the 2020 draft was a solid start: the Patriots acquired some possible foundational players, with second-round pick Kyle Dugger and sixth-round selection Michael Onwenu standing out in particular. Led by those two, the team saw some solid contributions from its rookie class.
Accordingly, it is no surprise to see New England get a good grade in a recent analysis done by NFL.com’s Gennaro Filice: the Patriots earned a B, best in the AFC East.
One big part of the breakdown was Onwenu’s performance as arguably the biggest steal of the draft:
What is it about the Patriots and sixth-round steals out of Michigan? OK, Michael Onwenu’s probably not gonna threaten Tom Brady’s G.O.A.T. status, but the physical 6-foot-3, 350-pounder started all 16 games in Year 1, excelling at three different positions in the process. Drafted as a guard, Onwenu briefly mauled foes on the left and right sides of the interior, but he actually spent the vast majority of his rookie campaign at right tackle, exceeding anyone’s wildest expectations as an edge blocker. In fact, in a highly celebrated bookend class that featured six first-round tackles, Onwenu scored the highest Pro Football Focus mark of all. Shoot, he ranked third in PFF’s grading system among ALL rookies, trailing only Justin Jefferson and Chase Young. Heady company for the 182nd overall pick.
Other players positively mentioned in the breakdown were Kyle Dugger as well as fellow second-round selection Josh Uche. All three showed their immense potential during what has been a challenging year for rookies: due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they were robbed of a traditional offseason as well as any preseason contests.
While the three stood out in 2020, not all was positive for the Patriots’ rookies. Tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene struggled with injury and did not have much of an impact all year long — combining to catch just five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Justin Rohrwasser, meanwhile, was unable to make the roster after being selected in the fifth round. He spent the entire season on the practice squad.