New England Patriots‘ first-round pick, cornerback Christian Gonzalez, has emerged as the team’s standout player in recent OTAs and minicamp sessions.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that he heard that Gonzalez’s performance has positioned him as the Patriots’ best cornerback, showcasing immense potential for the upcoming season.
Gonzalez’s exceptional abilities have already garnered attention, with discussions of him potentially starting on the left side of the field, opposite the speedy corner Jonathan Jones.
His combination of speed and agility make him an ideal counterpart to the experienced, smaller, Jones, with Marcus Jones prepared to take over the slot position.
Additionally, versatile veteran Jalen Mills can contribute effectively in multiple areas of the secondary, further strengthening the Patriots’ defensive lineup.
This positive development is particularly significant given the recent arrest and uncertain future of Jack Jones, a promising young cornerback on the Patriots’ roster. With Gonzalez’s emergence, the team has found a reliable option to fill any void left by Jones, providing much-needed stability in the defensive backfield.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 7, 2023
Although Gonzalez wasn’t the first cornerback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, going one pick after Emmanuel Forbes of the Washington Commanders at number 16, his performances during OTAs and minicamp have solidified his status as one of the most promising rookie corners.
During the draft in April, the Patriots wisely chose Christian Gonzalez from the University of Oregon with the 17th overall pick. Standing at an impressive 6’1″ and weighing 197 pounds, Gonzalez boasts an All-Pac-12 background that showcases his exceptional skills as a defensive back.
He displayed his remarkable athleticism at the Combine, running an impressive 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds (95th percentile) and recording a 41.5-inch vertical jump (99th percentile). His athleticism is further supported by an exceptional Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.95, highlighting his overall physical prowess.
Gonzalez’s long arms, measuring at 32 inches, allow him to effectively jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and deflect passes that would typically be out of reach for smaller corners. His smooth stride and ability to excel in press-man coverage make it challenging for opposing receivers to gain separation vertically.
Even during sharp route breaks, Gonzalez remains flexible enough to stay in phase with his opponents. Despite facing high-powered offenses in the Pac-12, Gonzalez defended an impressive 64 passes while allowing 495 yards and three touchdowns.
One area of improvement for Gonzalez lies in his run support, as his slender torso can sometimes hinder his effectiveness. However, he showcased notable growth in this aspect during his final collegiate season, posting a solid 4.9% missed tackle rate.
With his tremendous potential, Gonzalez possesses the profile that defensive coordinators covet, combining athleticism, coverage skills, and the ability to contribute in multiple facets of the game.