Nfl draft 2020 day

2020 NFL Draft picks: Michael Onwenu could be Day 3 steal for Patriots

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.

How Logan Ryan ‘finessed’ the Patriots ahead of the 2013 NFL Draft

How Logan Ryan ‘finessed’ the Patriots ahead of the 2013 NFL Draft

The New England Patriots were big fans of the Rutgers football program during the 2013 NFL Draft. The team had just seven picks yet spent three of those picks on players that went to Rutgers.

Two of those players were defensive backs, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon. The duo turned into key cogs on the Patriots Super Bowl teams of the mid-late 2010s and found ways to impact the game with their ball skills.

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That said, when preparing for the 2013 NFL Draft, they had a little bit of an advantage over the competition. As Ryan detailed on a recent episode of Devin and Jason McCourty’s “Double Coverage” Podcast, Ryan used his connections to the NFL defensive backs to “finesse” the Patriots a bit.

We finessed the Patriots because I called Dev (Devin McCourty) after I saw his Pro Day, me and Du (Duron Harmon) were doing the Pro Day workout in the weight room like two a days. You know me, I’m a worker. So after we would lift in the summer, at six or seven at night, we’d go back to the weight room and do the Pro Day workout all year. So, we were doing them drills all year.

The preparation would pay off for Ryan and Harmon. The Patriots ultimately held a private pre-draft workout with the draft-eligible Rutgers players. And Ryan was able to get the inside scoop from McCourty about what the workouts would entail so he knew how to prepare for them.

I knew the Patriots warm-up drills. So, me and Du were practicing these drills all week, and so when Bill [Belichick] comes, I’m like shirt off, eight-pack, catching the ball one-handed, sprinting back, I’m in great shape. I know all the drills. Like, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, I know that drill.’ ‘You ever do it before.’ ‘No, I’ve never did it.’ Do the drill with my eyes closed.

I was just working. And straight up, Dev would tell me, ‘Oh Dev, what’s it like? What’s this? What’s that? What do they like to see?’ And me and Du both get drafted in the third round, we both go up there, and the rest is history. But we were working those drills for a year and it paid off.

While the finessing paid off for Ryan and Harmon, it did work for the Patriots as well.

Ryan was a key versatile player on the team’s defense and he played in every game over the course of his four years with the Patriots. He intercepted 13 passes and held his own on the back end. He was key during the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons and actually tied for the team lead in tackles with six.

As for Harmon, he spent seven years with the Patriots serving as a key backup safety and logged 17 interceptions for the squad. He was traded to the Detroit Lions this offseason in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Patriots ended up trading that selection to move up and draft tight end Devin Asiasi.

Needless to say, neither side would trade those selections based on how things turned out. Ryan and Harmon may not be with the team now, but they’ve each had very productive NFL careers and did a lot to help the Patriots win a few Super Bowls this decade.

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