The 2023 NFL Draft is loaded at cornerback. From top to bottom, the cornerback group is arguably the deepest position in the class. Each prospect brings their own flavor to the game and will certainly be sporadically ranked throughout the process. But one corner stands out above the rest, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez.
As a true freshman out of The Colony, Texas, Gonzalez started six games for Colorado. After taking a COVID redshirt, he started all 12 games for the Buffaloes in 2021, earning an All-Pac 12 honorable mention. He led the team with five pass deflections, but never secured an interception.
Following his redshirt freshman season, Gonzalez entered the transfer portal, landed in Eugene, Oregon and never looked back. This year, he had 51 total tackles, seven pass deflections, and four interceptions. He has been a vital piece of Dan Lanning’s defense and nearly propelled Oregon to a playoff berth.
Following the conclusion of the season, Gonzalez opted out of the Ducks’ bowl game and officially entered the 2023 NFL Draft.
While the cornerback class may be stacked, Gonzalez stands out above the rest. Listed at 6’2”, 201lbs, the redshirt sophomore is a true freak athlete, reportedly hitting 23 mph in-game with a 42-inch vertical in his repertoire. He is a lanky defender, but is fluid enough in and out of breaks. He has quick hips and his foot speed keeps him in every single play.
In press coverage, Gonzalez is incredibly patient on the line of scrimmage, never panicking in his back pedal. Lanning put a lot of trust in Gonzalez as he utilized his instincts and ball skills more than ever, leading to turnovers and deflections.
Against the run, Gonzalez is a solid tackler. He is not the most aggressive corner in terms of angles and physicality, but he gets the job done when needed and that’s really all you can ask for from a boundary corner.
Even after an impressive season, Gonzalez is an incredibly raw prospect. With only three years as a cornerback, he still has to learn many tricks of the trade. He is a conservative cornerback, afraid to let anyone over the top. But once he learns to play more physically through the catch point and at the line of scrimmage, he has a chance to be special.
With an already impressive resume and tons of room to grow, Gonzalez has a chance to be the top cornerback from this draft class. He jumps off the tape, and his combine workout will only enhance his scouting report. Gonzalez is a first-round lock and should hear his name in the top-15.