FOXBORO - Few players in the NFL are as underrated as New England Patriots offensive lineman Michael Onwenu.
A recent article from Sports Illustrated agrees. The article highlights each NFL team's most underrated player, and of course, Onwenu makes the list on behalf of the Patriots.
In some ways, Onwenu is starting to lose his underrated status because of how often he seems to make these "most underrated" lists. So why does Onwenu continue to make appearances?
A major reason for his relatively unknown stature is due to his draft position. Onwenu was selected by New England in the sixth round in 2020. As a prospect out of Michigan, he showed a strong physical toolset that best suited him for a longshot future at right guard.
However, even as a rookie, Onwenu gained a reputation as a bulldozer in the running game and quickly found a home on the team's starting offensive line. He made his way onto the 2020 NFL All-Rookie Team and looked poised to eventually qualify for the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team.
However, for unexplained reasons, Onwenu was taken out of his starting role in the 2021 NFL season.
As the offensive lineman's "sixth man", he was often used in jumbo packages in the second-half of the season in lieu of a tight end. His run blocking continued to be stellar, making his removal from the starting line all the more perplexing.
With the team continuing to build around a young quarterback in Mac Jones, it's imperative that the offense's front five remains cohesive; it certainly helps their effort that they have one of the most underrated young linemen in the league on a cheap rookie contract.