One of the most heartbreaking losses in recent Patriots history has to be that of Christian Gonzalez, who suffered a labrum tear to his right shoulder against the Dallas Cowboys in week four.
The rookie was highly touted before being drafted 17th overall in this year's draft, and since being named a starter in week one, Gonzalez has more than lived up to all the hype. That's what made it all the more gut-wrenching when it was announced he would be sidelined for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery.
He began his potential Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign covering A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith when the Eagles visited Foxboro. He followed up that impressive performance by shutting down Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, two of the top receivers in the league.
That streak continued when the Patriots visited the Jets, as Gonzalez covered Garrett Wilson for most of the game, allowing just two catches on three targets for 19 yards. It was a vastly different performance for the young receiver, who recorded seven receptions for 115 yards in their last matchup.
Gonzalez was then assigned CeeDee Lamb in week four, holding it down until he suffered his injury late in the first quarter.
He will finish his rookie season, allowing just 11/20 receptions for 124 yards (QBs had a 52.9 passer rating when throwing his way), 17 combined tackles, three passes defended, an interception, and a sack.
Although his season ended prematurely, Gonzalez proved to be exactly what the Patriots defense needed. He began to demonstrate lockdown cornerback abilities and will be a pillar of the secondary for years to come. It begs the question: how did 31 other teams pass on this kid in the draft?