Christian Gonzalez Draft Profile
The most important attributes for cornerbacks coming out is whether or not they are a fluid mover. When examining the best corners in the NFL: Patrick Surtain, Sauce Gardner, Darius Slay, or whoever it is; the best ones can run fast and change directions without wasted movement. University of Oregon cornerback, Christian Gonzalez, has those same attributes. Everything is smooth and efficient for him. The Colorado transfer was born and raised in Texas and followed the legendary defensive backs coach, Coach Meat, in a move to Oregon. Despite being considered a four-star as both a corner and receiver, Gonzalez may not be the most athletic person in his family. His father played division one basketball and semiprofessionally in Columbia, and two of his sisters were All-American track runners. Gonzalez is the prototype for what a modern day NFL cornerback is supposed to look like and is my highest graded corner in this year’s NFL Draft.
Hips and feet are the two most important body parts for the corner back position; the mobility that Gonzalez has in those two areas are what makes him so fluid getting in and out of breaks. He is reactive and does a good job at staying in the receivers hip pocket making life difficult for them. His feet allow him to practically run the routes for certain receivers and mirror them at all three levels. Every team covets a true man corner and Gonzalez’s movement abilities allow him to be just that. While Gonzalez’s transition speed is what stands out immediately, his long speed is just as impressive. If he is ever in a bad position, Gonzalez has the recovery speed to make up ground and close in on open receivers. Gonzalez is reactive; he knows how to close the space between him and the receiver and flip his eyes when the ball is in the air. My favorite trait that Gonzalez possesses is patience. His shoulders remain squared up to the receiver; it does not feel like he is ever chasing them even when he has to turn up the gears and use his aforementioned recovery speed. His movement skills allow him to follow receivers around whether they play on the outside or move into the slot. HIs hands are natural and he catches the ball like he is still that four-star receiver. Gonzalez has all the traits that teams look for in a lockdown corner, and I anticipate him being able to thrive in the NFL starting day one.
The one area where I want to see Gonzalez improve is when having to be aggressive. He is reckless as a tackler and prefers to dive at players feet rather than wrap up. While that can get guys down, it is not reliable when having to seal the edge or make a play in open space. I have the same concerns when he is tasked with a hard press; he is sloppy when he throws his hands causing him to get in trail technique off the line of scrimmage. While he has excellent hips, he does not drive on the football and play through the receivers hands when having to come down hill in cover three or man coverage. There is room for him to improve with controlled aggression, using his hands, and being physical, but his feet and speed are alway going to put him in a position to succeed.
Gonzalez is best when he is playing man coverage up at the line of scrimmage in soft press. He measured in the top 25 percentile of arm length and has all the physical attributes teams drool over at the cornerback position. He reminds me a lot of AJ Terrell in terms of fluidity, ball skills, and speed. I think he would be a perfect fit on the other side of Terrell in Atlanta, and I also believe he would make the Raiders and Cardinals better from day one. He is my number one corner in this year’s draft and I believe he’s a top ten player. I believe his absolute floor is at pick number 11 to Tennessee. When looking at position prototypes, Gonzalez fits the mold at corner.
Movement Ability (Hips + Feet): 13/14
Speed + Control: 10.75/12
Ball Skills: 10/12
Physicality + Aggression: 8/10
Instincts + Intelligence: 6.75/8
Poise + Confidence: 7/8
Pursuit + Competitiveness: 4.75/6
Length + Hand Usage: 4.75/6
Final Rating: 85
Pro Comparison: AJ Terrell
Team Fits: Falcons, Raiders, Cardinals
Draft Projection: Top 11 Pick
Draft Grade: Top 10 Player