BOSTON (CBS) — Mike Onwenu was arguably the steal of the 2020 NFL Draft. A versatile offensive lineman, Onwenu was taken in the sixth round with the 182nd overall pick, and he’d go on to start all 16 games of his rookie season.
By all accounts and measurements, Onwenu had an excellent season. However, the 23-year-old isn’t particularly impressed with himself.READ MORE: Hurley's Picks: Tom Brady Winning In L.A., Jaguars Growing More Embarrassing, Cowboys Dodging Football Karma
“I probably had a C,” Onwenu said Tuesday when asked to grade his rookie season. “I mean, it was a lot I messed up on. I’m trying to take in everything and trying to learn everything.”
Onwenu was on the field for 92 percent of the Patriots’ snaps last season. He was flagged for a penalty just once — a holding penalty in Week 9. Pro Football Focus gave him an 84.3 grade, naming him a member of the All-Rookie Team at tackle.READ MORE: 20 Years Ago: Tom Brady Replaced An Injured Drew Bledsoe, Changing The Patriots Franchise Forever
“Not only did he start at three different positions, but Onwenu also earned PFF grades of 79.0 or higher at each of left guard (83.5), right guard (79.7) and right tackle (79.2) on 100-plus snaps,” Ben Linsey of PFF wrote. “That kind of versatility and high-level play across multiple positions is rare for any offensive lineman, let alone a rookie.”
It was, unquestionably, an impressive debut from a sixth-round pick. Still, in true Patriots fashion, Onwenu remained more focused on the mistakes than the successes.
“Hey man, I gotta do my job,” Onwenu said when told he was a tough grader. “Just a lot of stuff, I mean a lot. A lot of the time, I was nervous being in a high-stakes moment or just playing for the first time. So I mean, not necessarily not believing in myself, but just being sure of myself and knowing I know the answer is just about doing it.”MORE NEWS: Red Sox Beat Mets, 12-5, Win 7th In A Row With Yellow Jerseys
Onwenu worked primarily at right tackle last year but figures to be the team’s starting left guard this year, replacing Joe Thuney. The team re-acquired Trent Brown will be the starting right tackle. While Onwenu is expected to hold down the guard spot, he could be called upon to man one of the tackle positions if either Isaiah Wynn or Brown suffers an injury.