Patriot Mike Onwenu suddenly became the under-25 team

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Mike Onwenu

NFL.com appreciates New England Patriots offensive lineman Michael Onwenu more than his coaching staff — at least that’s how it seems. NFL.com’s Nick Shook ranked Onwenu as one of the NFL’s best players, aged 25 and under.

Surely a player recognized by a writer on the league’s website as being on such an endearing list would be the crux of his team’s offense, wouldn’t it?

The answer to that question is not as clear-cut as one might expect.

After a first-place rookie season in 2020) saw the 6-foot-3, 350-pound athlete register 84.3 with Pro Football Focus).

With the departure of longtime guard Shaq Mason in trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, it looks like Onwneu will have a chance to shine and start. That could happen once the season kicks off, but early in training camp, Onwenu spent time with veteran James Ferentz.

Based on Mark Daniels of Providence MagazineFerentz and Arlington Hambright have “altered” and “played some representation in the right guard in place of Onwenu.”


Is Onwenu better than Ferentz?

There’s no proof to that concept, but many might wonder why Ferentz, an O-lineman journeyman with all intents and purposes, returned to Onwenu. Perhaps splitting the reps with Hambright was even more troublesome.

Hambright signed a futures contract with the Patriots in January, so it’s not as if he’s coming to camp as a solicited prospect or an established veteran. Is Onwenu’s air conditioning a problem?

It’s a reasonable question considering how intense the heat can be in training camp, and Onwenu is a big man. Back in August 2020, just before the start of his rookie season, Onwenu dropped to 344 pounds, per Evan Lazar of Patriots.com:

For the record, no local media members present to practice the boot camp have commented on Ownenu’s weight or condition.


What is Onwenu’s best position on the long-term attack?

Onwenu was forced to play football to deal with injury as a rookie, and he has seen action there in 2021 because of similar situations. Despite being drafted as a guard and expected by most to play that position, Onwenu played most of his slam dunk in the NFL at the disposal.

Here’s a breakdown of the positions Onwenu has played during his two-year career in fast numbers, according to the PFF:

  • Left ball painting: 0
  • Left guard: 402
  • Center: 0
  • Right guard: 187
  • Right ball painting: 892
  • Inline tight end: 92

Versatility has been excellent, but Onwenu will likely reach his full potential when and if he can take on a role. It seems likely that Onwenu could be a superior NFL player in both guard positions, but like many O-Lineman in the NFL, he will most likely continue to be shuffled to meet the needs of the team.

It looks like the Patriots’ ideal offensive line-up in 2022 would be Isaiah Wynn, Onwenu, David Andrews, rookie Cole Strange and Trent Brown. If everyone is healthy, it could still be a step ahead of Mac Jones.

If they can all stay mostly healthy, we could see a special year from Onwenu and O-Line in general.

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