Patriots offensive lineman Michael Onwenu is off to another strong start in his third season with the team, coming in as Pro Football Focus' fourth-ranked guard in the NFL. The advanced analytics site has long been a fan of the sixth-rounder out of Michigan, with Onwenu finishing as the third-ranked guard in 2021 and the eighth-ranked guard during his rookie season in 2020.
This year Onwenu has settled into his college position of right guard after spending his first two years moving around the offensive line where he was needed. As a rookie he played over 600 snaps at right tackle, with fill-in moments at left guard (112 snaps) and right guard (185 snaps). Last season, he was even more versatile splitting his largest snap counts at left guard (290) and right tackle (276), while also helping out as a third blocking tight end on nearly 100 snaps.
"[Mike]'s done a good job there for us since he's been here," said Bill Belichick earlier this month when asked about Onwenu's role and development. "We've used him at both spots, at left guard and also at right tackle. But he's been a good player for us, really at every spot. He's smart. He's strong. He moves well and plays with good balance. He sees the game well with stunts, schemes and linebackers. He makes a lot of good decisions as you have to at that position."
Overall, Football Outsiders ranks the Patriots' OL as fourth-best in the league in Adjusted Line Yards. Drill down even further and they're the fourth-ranked rushing offense in the league when running up the middle behind Onwenu, center David Andrews and rookie Cole Strange, while they're second-best in the NFL running off the right side where Onwenu and Isaiah Wynn line up.
Now in his third year and settled into a steady spot, Onwenu is helping to take the Patriots ground game to a new level.
"Yeah it's been cool, being consistent, being at the same spot," said Onwenu of sticking at one position this season.
The continuity is starting to pay dividends as the team has protected their backup rookie well and has been opening up holes for a running game that is flirting with dominance.
"I've been aware, just watching the game recaps, and watching the film and everything," said Onwenu of how the unit's been playing. "We've been trying to do our best every week, it's a good feeling.