Pro Football Focus tabs second-year OL as Patriots’ most underrated player

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Mike Onwenu out of Michigan was by far the most important player in the draft last year for the New England Patriots.

He was selected in the sixth round and made appearances at tackle and guard, while starting all 16 games as a rookie. Onwenu earned the largest amount of performance-based pay ($554,792) on the team and he earned every penny of it. The only player to pass Onwenu in percentage of snaps was Joe Thuney, who went on to sign a five-year, $80 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Because of this incredible rookie year, Pro Football Focus named Onwenu on their list of the “most underrated player” for all 32 NFL teams. He was the third highest-graded player on PFF’s list behind Damien Harris and Shaq Mason.

Listed as a guard, even though most of his play in his rookie year came at right tackle, Onwenu was a phenomenal first-year performer for the Patriots regardless of position. In a world where the league appreciated offensive line play as much as the play from “skill positions,” Onwenu would have had a strong case for rookie of the year after allowing just 11 total pressures all season.

New England will enter 2021 as one of the strongest offensive lines with a starting group consisting of Onwenu, Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown, Shaq Mason and David Andrews. The Patriots brought back Ted Karras as a valuable backup and the additions of Jonnu Smith along with Hunter Henry will only make the trenches stronger.

Regardless if Cam Newton or Mac Jones are at the helm — the offensive line will be ready to do the heavy lifting.

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Looking at the Patriots' complete 2021 schedule