The coronavirus has reduced the number of pre-draft visits. However, some players met with NFL teams before officials confirmed the restrictions. The Patriots hosted Michigan guard Michael Onwenu. The team hosted him for a private visit as confirmed by SB Nation’s Justin Melo.
Onwenu was a three-year starter at right guard in Michigan. The guard projects as a late-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Onwenu didn’t test at the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day was canceled. However, many have praised his strength. This doesn’t apply to his athleticism. According to NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein, Onwenu’s athleticism is “below average.”
Onwenu has excellent size, and that’s his strongest trait. The Michigan product is heavier than most Patriots guards. He measured in at 6-foot-3, 344 pounds at the combine. The guard was the heaviest guard/center in Indianapolis and the second-heaviest offensive lineman right behind Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton (364 pounds).
The Patriots sign O-lineman who weigh between 300 and 310 pounds. In 2019, starting guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason checked in at 308 and 310. Reserve guard Jermaine Eluemunor (335 pounds) is an exception.
The Patriots may sign the guard
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had words of praise for Onwenu and his power and movement ability in his 2020 NFL Draft Guide.
“After tipping the scale over 370 pounds in Ann Arbor, he made a concerted effort to change his diet and transform his body, which directly affected his movements and uptick in energy on the practice field. Despite the excessive weight, Onwenu doesn’t play sloppy with smooth movements and natural power, driving defenders from the spot with his physical grip. He will get top heavy at times and needs to develop his sustain skills once he connects. Overall, Onwenu might require an adjustment period in the NFL to improve his timing and hand placement, but his mauling strength and body control make him a draft-and-develop candidate for a power-based scheme.”
Center Cesar Ruiz played next to Onwenu in Michigan. Some analysts have mentioned him as a potential target for head coach Bill Belichick and Co. NFL teams will probably draft him in the first or second round.
The Patriots will play without top interior O-line backup Ted Karras. They may also Thuney, who is signed under the franchise tag.