NFL

The New England Patriots Have a Special Talent in Their $3.5 Million Rookie Offensive Lineman

The New England Patriots have struggled so far during the 2020 season. Through eight games, the Patriots have a 3-5 record and are currently third in the AFC East. The Patriots are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Though the Patriots have struggled during the season, there’s been a player that has stood out.

Rookie offensive lineman Michael Onwenu has had an impressive season for the Patriots. The rookie has caught the eye of many people throughout the league, and he is poised to finish his first season on a good note.

Michael Onwenu was a top-ranked player in high school

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Onwenu is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and he attended Detroit Cass Technical High School. He had a stellar high school career. During his senior year in 2016, he participated in the U.S. Army All-American Game. According to Rivals.com, he was a four-star prospect and rated as the nation’s eighth-best offensive guard prospect. Onwenu was rated as a four-star prospect by ESPN and ranked as the third-best prospect in Michigan.

In 2015 he was a Div. 1-2 Associated Press all-state first-team selection. He decided to commit to Michigan over the likes of Alabama and Ohio State. During his freshman year at Michigan, Onwenu spent time playing on the offensive and defensive line. After his freshman year, he played the final three years on the offensive line at right guard.

During his final two seasons at Michigan, he was a full-time starter. He was an All-Big Ten honoree his junior year and was named to Pro Football Focus College’s All-Big Ten Team on offense his senior year.

Michael Onwenu joining the New England Patriots

After his impressive career at Michigan, he was selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Onwenu signed a four-year contract with the Patriots worth about $3.5 million with a 2020 salary cap hit of $660,617. The Patriots did not waste any time getting Onwenu on the field. He received his first career start in Week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Patriots defeated the Raiders 36-20, and Onwenu played a significant part in the Patriots finishing with 250 rushing yards during the game.

According to an article from si.com, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke highly of the rookie offensive lineman. “Mike’s shown a lot of versatility. He played right guard at Michigan, and that’s pretty much the only spot he played,” Bill Belichick said to the media after the Patriots win over the Raiders. 

“I think he’s done a really good job. He’s a smart kid, he’s got a lot of physical playing strength, he’s a good athlete, he’s got good football smarts and awareness and he’s done a good job for us, playing right tackle and then yesterday at guard he handled some good situations. He learned a lot and he’s still got a long way to go but did a lot of good things.”

Michael Onwenu has developed into a top rookie in the NFL

Through eight games, Onwenu has started in six of them for the Patriots and played 450 of a possible 535 offensive snaps so far this season. The Patriots have dealt with injuries throughout the season, but one bright spot has been Onwenu. So far, he has proved himself and shown that he belongs in the league.

Pro Football Focus recently released its Midseason All-Pro Team, and Onwenu made the list. Onwenu made the team as a left guard, and he also made the Midseason All-Rookie Team. The talented rookie will look to continue to play at a high-level throughout the remainder of the season, and the Patriots will look to utilize him more and more as the season progresses.