The New England Patriots needed to bolster the depth and talent of their offensive line in the 2020 NFL Draft, and they addressed this roster weakness on Day 3.
The Patriots chose three offensive linemen -- Michigan guard Michael Onwenu, Wake Forest tackle Justin Herron and Memphis center Dustin Woodard -- in the sixth and seventh rounds.
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The selection of Onwenu, in particular, is drawing praise from experts. Pro Football Focus explained in its draft grades for all 32 teams why Onwenu could end up being a draft steal for New England.
He’s not likely to see the field soon, but the Patriots made a great pick in Round 6 when they were able to get interior offensive lineman Michael Onwenu, our 128th-ranked prospect. At 6-foot-3, 350 pounds, Onwenu may not be able to match NFL quicks, but he can match NFL power. Very rarely did someone go through him in pass protection — he allowed only 13 pressures over the last two seasons and posted top-15 pass-blocking grades among guards each season.
Onwenu started all 13 of Michigan's games at right guard last season, and he also earned third team All-Big 10 honors in 2018 and 2019. He contributed on special teams as well.
The Patriots offensive line was hit hard by injuries last season. Starters including left tackle Isaiah Wynn, center David Andrews and right tackle Marcus Cannon all missed games. After losing center Ted Karras in free agency, in addition to star left guard Joe Thuney's uncertain future with the team after signing the franchise tag, it made perfect sense for the Patriots to target multiple interior linemen in the draft.
Onwenu was one of the best available options for the Patriots on Day 3, and he has the potential to be another one of New England's impressive offensive linemen draft picks (Thuney, Shaq Mason, etc.) from the middle to late rounds.