New England Patriots training camp player profile: Cornerback Christian Gonzalez

Christian Gonzalez has already impressed since being drafted
Oct 8, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of the jersey of Oregon Ducks defensive back
Oct 8, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of the jersey of Oregon Ducks defensive back / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2023 draft, who the Patriots would take in the first round had been a highly debated topic for months.

You may say that's typical for basically every team in the league every year, and you wouldn't be wrong. However, given the current state of the team after the failure of the 2022 season, there was a lot of pressure on Bill Belichick and Co. to get the right player.

The consensus believed they would take one of the top receivers available in the class since they had needed one for a few seasons or an offensive lineman after the inconsistent protection from the unit last year.

But instead, the unthinkable happened.

Not projected to get out of the top ten, top-ranked cornerback Christian Gonzalez fell into the Patriots' lap, even after they traded back three spots. It was a weird twist of fate and would have likely been a big mistake had Belichick chosen to pass on him.

So with the 17th overall pick, the Patriots chose Gonzalez out of Oregon. And the snippets we've seen and heard about him in the months since make it look like one of the best decisions of this year's draft for New England.


2022 stats - 12 games played at Oregon

  • 50 total tackles, 1 TFL
  • 4 interceptions returned for 118 yards
  • 7 passes defended
  • 39/64 receptions allowed for 495 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Allowed just a 74.7 passer rating

One of the best things about Gonzalez is how naturally athletic and explosive he plays the game of football. Adding a player with that type of physicality will be optimal as the Patriots continue to run through their defense.

His size makes him one of the bigger defensive backs in the secondary, which will be a significant factor in helping to slow down top receivers across the league, especially in the AFC East. His acceleration from the snap to his quickness moving down the field will be invaluable when chasing them down, allowing him to keep up with them too.

On top of that, Gonzalez has the versatility that Belichick loves in his players. Starting his career as a wide receiver gave him a well-rounded knowledge of the game and an understanding of how a pass-catcher fits into an offense, giving him a one-up over his teammates.

Then, of course, he also has experience lining up all over the secondary and playing on special teams. Although it seems unlikely that he will need to be used elsewhere, he gives Belichick the choice to use him in different alignments or with the special teams, making him worth even more to this team.


Throughout his college career, although he was limited to just one season of elite play, Gonzalez demonstrated all the attributes of a potential big-play ability corner that could be a star on almost any team in the league.

One of the more critiqued parts of his game is his often conservative approach, which won't always bode well in the NFL.

With more time working with Belichick and the rest of the Patriots coaches, Gonzalez will undoubtedly improve upon the few weaknesses he does have.



It's not common for a Patriots rookie to be a starter in their first season, but it's pretty apparent that Gonzalez will be for the season ahead.

Throughout spring OTAs and minicamp, he was consistently one of the most impressive performers on the field, so much so that many of his veteran teammates had a lot to say about what they'd seen from him so far.

During those practices, he worked with the first team defense, earning the trust and building chemistry with Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills.

With training camp right around the corner, we'll have to see if Gonzalez can maintain the performance he showed earlier this year, especially against other teams, once joint practices begin. But if we've seen any indication of what's to come, the Patriots may have struck gold again and could have one of the best secondaries in the league.