From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I will be profiling a big corner from Oregon.
#0 Christian Gonzalez, DB, Oregon (SO) — 6020, 201 lbs.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
—Very good size and speed
—Experience playing in Man and Zone coverages
—Best fit is outside but can play in the slot as well
—Patient feet and jam in Press
—Ease to stay in phase on deep routes
—Free mover; rarely looks stressed in coverage
—Good tackler in space
—Use to blitz from the corner spot
—Improved ball production in 2022
— Slow diagnosis of swing pass/running plays in his direction
— Grabby around the waist of receiver especially on outside stems moving back inside
— Marginal play strength; physical receivers will give him some trouble
— Gave up contested catches including two in end zone in games watched
— Will resort to ankle diving on tackle attempt causing misses
— Wont consistently help on tackles with other players around; let’s them handle it
— Doesn’t get off blocks of receivers
— Just one season of good ball production
— 2022 – 50 tackles, 35 solo, 1 TFL, 4 INT for 118 yards, 7 PBU
— Career – 128 tackles, 100 solo, 6 TFL, 4 INT for 118 yards, 17 PBU
— 30 games, 30 starts
— First team All-PAC12
— Spent first two years at Colorado
— Also ran track and field in high school; personal best of 21.6 seconds in the 200-meters
— Two older sisters were All-Americans in track and field
— Birthday 06/28/2002 (age 20)
— Four star prospect out of high school
There are some interesting players at cornerback in this year’s draft and Christian Gonzalez is right up there. A three year starter with the first two coming at Colorado he showed improvement in his ball skills this year. Coupled with his size and speed, he’s going to draw a lot of attention in the draft process.
His best fit is as an outside corner but you look at the Arizona game and he played primarily in the slot. That versatility is nice to have. He also played on both sides of the field and looked comfortable doing so.
Against the pass, he has experience in Press Man, Off Man and Zone coverages. In Press, he plays with very good patience with his feet and hands. He will wait to open his hips to match the receiver and will vary the timing of his jam. He is a free mover and gets up to speed quickly. No matter the receiver he never looked stressed to keep up with anyone on deep routes easily staying in phase.
Vs Stanford, Gonzalez (0) shows a nice display of his patience while staying in the pocket of the receiver. Makes a play on the ball to get the pass break up.
When he doesn’t jam or is in Off coverage, he displays good feet to match the receiver and solid change of direction to move with breaks at the top of the stem. He again has plenty of speed to hang with crossing routes to eliminate yards after the catch.
Vs Stanford, he uses his length to reach around the receiver to break up the pass.
In Zone, he has solid awareness of the routes in his area and shows good spacing. Once the ball is thrown, he has good acceleration to click and close on the ball and the length to get his hands to the ball. I liked his awareness of route combinations in the deep Zone understanding his role to limit downfield opportunities.
At California, he closes quickly on the WR screen to limit the gain.
At Oregon State, during the quarterback roll out he’ll bump a receiver off his route and then peel back to the crossing route and makes an impressive interception.
Against the run, he was willing to be force defender on the outside and funnel plays back inside. He is a good tackler in a one on one situation. When in space he plays under control and showed some very nice wrap up tackles.
At California, he dives low but is able to make the stop on the edge.
At Oregon State, at the top of the screen he’ll limit the gain on this play making a nice wrap up tackle.
Areas to improve include getting stronger. He is marginal getting off blocks and can be pushed around by more physical receivers. In jump ball situations, he needs to locate the ball more efficiently and play through the ball consistently. There were plays in the end zone where he allowed the reception on balls he could have made a play. On double moves, he gets very grabby around the waist. I saw several plays where a receiver would stem outside before cutting back inside and he would hook their waist. He’s not going to stick his face in the fan in a multiple player tackle. He will hang back and let others handle it. His aiming point on tackles can be too low leaving him grasping at ankles.
Vs Georgia, at the top of the screen it’s a back shoulder throw and he doesn’t find the ball and gives up an easy reception.
Here are a couple of the less than stellar tackle efforts. On the first at the bottom of the screen he dives at the ankles and misses. On the second, at the top of the screen he will back away from the scrum rather than get in on the stop.
Defensive back is a position that could be upgraded even if they sign their own free agents. The team historically has struggled with the development of corners they draft. Given how they have improved in their ball skills with Teryl Austin at the helm and with a new front office I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Gonzalez has all the physical tools with size, speed and athleticism. He is a three year starter and is still only 20 years old. With him having experience in not only Zone and Man coverage but outside and the slot as well make him even more valuable. Another flexible piece for the defense to use in multiple ways.
He has confidence in coverage and like I stated he doesn’t seem to be stressed versus any receiver. His speed allows him to stay in phase and have a chance to make a play on the ball. He wasn’t heavily targeted in the games I saw but was still able to make plays. His first two years there were no interceptions but he was able to improve his ball production this season.
His areas to improve in coverage really are about improving his strength and physicality. That is something that can easily be addressed. He can work on not grabbing the waist of receivers changing directions. They can coach him up on his aiming point when tackling but I don’t know if he will be as physical in that area as you might like.
Overall, he can fit in any coverage scheme and play inside or outside. The tools are all there and not a huge amount of development needed. If they were going to take a chance on a young, athletic corner Gonzalez would be a good selection. If they re-sign Cam Sutton they can use Gonzalez in the slot initially giving the team a nice trio of corners. At some point though, he will be a starting corner on the outside likely sooner rather than later. The players that come to mind for comparison are Jaycee Horn and Eric Stokes.
Projection: Mid First Round
Depot Draft Grade: 8.9 Year 1 Quality Starter
Games Watched: 2022 – Vs Georgia, Vs Stanford, At Arizona, At California, At Oregon State