PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 24: DUPLICATE***Oregon Ducks running back Mar'Keise Irving (0)***Oregon Ducks defensive back Christian Gonzalez (0) attempts to shed off Washington State Cougars defensive back Derrick Langford Jr. (5) during the Washington State Cougars versus the Oregon Ducks game on Saturday September 24, 2022 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, WA. (Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 24: DUPLICATE***Oregon Ducks running back Mar'Keise Irving (0)***Oregon Ducks defensive back Christian Gonzalez (0) attempts to shed off Washington State Cougars defensive back Derrick Langford Jr. (5) during the Washington State Cougars versus the Oregon Ducks game on Saturday September 24, 2022 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, WA. (Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Oregon Corner Christian Gonzalez Shuts it Down

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In 2022, Christian Gonzalez transferred from Colorado to Oregon and he has shown on both teams that he has what it takes to shut things down.

This cornerback is like a receivers’ shadow. Wherever the receiver goes, Gonzalez is sure to follow.

He shows an excellent understanding for the position, no matter if he is in man or zone coverage.

Gonzalez has elite athletic ability

Receivers love to change direction on routes and attempt to create separation by doing so.

Gonzalez however, shows he can match them, while continuing to provide blanket coverage.

This is what is needed to be a shut-down corner in the NFL. Corners must be able to match receivers at the route break-points, and Gonzalez shows he can do that.

Playmaker

With the air show the NFL’s passing game has become, a defense needs corners who can make a play on the ball, and Gonzalez showed he could do so on game film.

It additionally shows in his stats, and this is specifically what confirms his elite athletic ability.

That is because it takes elite athletic ability to be able to make plays on the ball three straight seasons in college (Colorado and Oregon).

It does no good to have corners in the NFL that can only secure the tackles after the damage has been done and the offense moves the chains.

Teams need corners who can disrupt passes.

Because Gonzalez has shown he has that kind of ability is what qualifies him to be a first-round prospect in the upcoming draft.

Gonzalez gets physical with receivers

He loves press-man coverage and coming right up on receivers pre-snap.

Gonzalez jams and he uses his hands exceptionally well to stay in phase with receivers.

He has no problem mixing it up, and it is his physicality that makes him a menacing and imposing defender in coverage.

Waiting to see short-area burst

Gonzalez has everything an NFL team would want in a franchise corner, but I have not seen that coveted short-area burst show up on game film yet.

That is the only thing that is keeping me from moving him into the top 10.

Gonzalez combines an excellent understanding of the position, technique, aggression, physicality, and long arms to get the job done.

However, against Georgia even on routes he was covering and the ball was not thrown in his direction, Bulldog receivers were able to get a step or two on him.

That concerned me seeing that on game film.

#0 Christian Gonzalez 6-foot-2, 201 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s Grade: First-Round – Early Fall 2022 Report

First Round Mock Big Board: TBD

Projected by 18.9% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of October 18, 2022 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

2021 game film reviewed: (Jersey #3 Colorado) Texas A&M (click to watch games viewed to form this evaluation)

2022 game film reviewed (Jersey #0 Oregon) BYU and Georgia

Level of competition: High

2021 stats: 53 tackles (42 solo, 11 assists), 5 passes defended, 0 INT

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report:

Aggressive and alert corner with long arms, good straight-line speed, and top-shelf athletic ability who has not shown short-area burst. Thrives in press-man, but can also plays off man and he can drop into zones. Shows great understanding and even looks like he is baiting passers at times by providing cushion. Has an eye in the backfield and keeps the game in front of him. Great at maintaining route leverage consistently. Uses hands exceptionally well to stay in phase. Showed he can carry slants and underneath crossing routes, and he could flip hips, run and carry vertically. Does a good job timing his close and getting a hand in to break up. Surrendered three catches in three games (one too much cushion and the other two under super tight coverage). Good in support passing situations. Made a nice solo tackle against Georgia by the goal line. Often blocked out on running plays. Intriguing prospect.

What to watch for during the 2022 college football season:

  1. Does he show short-area burst in coverage?
  2. How does he look high-pointing the ball (Georgia receiver out-jumped TD)
  3. What are his pass coverage stats?
  4. How does he look against the run?

At this point, he is the best overall corner I have seen heading toward the 2023 NFL Draft.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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