Christian Gonzalez selected in first round of 2023 NFL Draft
Christian Gonzalez has been selected with the No. 17 pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
The former Oregon cornerback developed into a standout playmaker during his lone season with the Ducks and now he’s off to the NFL. However, he slipped a bit from pre-draft projections and landed outside the top 10. With the drop, Oregon’s streak of consecutive drafts with a player selected in the first 10 picks ends at three.
Still, Oregon has had first-round picks in four consecutive drafts now. Gonzalez is also the first Oregon defensive back drafted in the first round since Alex Molden in 1996.
Going, going, Gonzo.
Welcome to New England, @chrisgonzo28! pic.twitter.com/2fOUcwU5Ij
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 28, 2023
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound corner transferred to Oregon after the 2021 season, following corners coach Demetrice Martin from Colorado to Eugene. Gonzalez spent two years with the Buffs, starting all 18 games during that time. He earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a second-year man in 2021, finishing fifth on the team and first among defensive backs with 53 tackles.
At Oregon last season, he was a force.
Gonzalez produced 50 tackles, seven pass breakups, four interceptions, and a blocked kick. He was the third-highest-graded Pac-12 corner last year, according to Pro Football Focus.
He took part in the NFL Scouting Combine in early March and showcased an attractive blend of size and athleticism. Gonzalez is a bigger corner, but moves quite well. It’s that skillset, he said at Oregon’s Pro Day, that makes him the top corner in the draft class.
“I believe I am. I think with my mix of speed, height, and weight,” Gonzalez said then. “Then versatility, being able to move inside and outside. I can do it all.”
He wasn’t the first cornerback off the board in Thursday night’s draft — that distinction belonged to Devon Witherspoon, the former Illinois corner drafted fifth overall by Seattle — but now he has a chance to back up his talk.