The New England Patriots have drafted Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez with the No. 17 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Gonzalez has good size (6-1, 197 pounds) and elite speed (4.38 forty) to go along with refined ball skills and instincts. He has the foundation to become an anchor in the defensive backfield. However, Gonzalez will only be 20 years old when drafted, and he only emerged as a top prospect after one strong year in college. His consistency remains to be seen, and Gonzalez needs to develop and mature in zone coverage.
Gonzalez played his first two years of college football with the Colorado Buffaloes. He transferred to the Oregon Ducks ahead of the 2022 season, and had a solid junior year with 45 tackles, four interceptions, and a 74.7 QB rating when targeted. Subsequently, Gonzalez was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference first team while boosting his draft stock.
How can Christian Gonzalez impact the Patriots in 2023?
Gonzalez should be starting in Week 1 for the Pats. Jonathan Jones should have one cornerback spot locked down, but Gonzalez should be able to beat out Myles Bryant and Marcus Jones for the other starting corner spot. New England moved back in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers and come away with a corner that was largely considered a top-two player at the position in this class.