Is anyone shocked by this one?
Immediately upon being drafted, the excitement over Christian Gonzalez was absolutely unreal. Other than the fact the Patriots seriously lucked out in having the top-ranked cornerback of the class fall to them after trading down in the first round, the potential Gonzalez possesses and will bring to the team is substantial.
And fortunately for the Patriots' coaches, his performance through limited OTAs thus far is living up to the hype.
From the get-go, Gonzalez was said to likely be a starter right away, even though Bill Belichick is not known for immediately having rookies be starters. But that doesn't appear to be the case for Gonzalez, who worked with the starting defensive team on Tuesday and was notably not switched out when others were swapped in for reps.
"When New England’s top defensive unit took the field for the first competitive 11-on-11 period, Gonzalez was manning one of the outside cornerback spots, with Jonathan Jones at the other, Jalen Mills in the slot and Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers at safety. Jack Jones, whose strong rookie season was derailed by an injury and a team-imposed suspension, repped with the twos to start.
Jack Jones did work in with the first team in subsequent drills, but when he did, he replaced Jonathan Jones, not Gonzalez."
Although Tuesday's practice was significantly lighter than days prior, and nearly all of the team's top receivers were absent, Gonzalez's skillset was on full display throughout, with even some of his veteran teammates taking time to comment on what they've seen from him so far.
"It’s pretty effortless just the way he does everything. The way he moves in and out of breaks, he runs easy. It just looks very light, very fluid. It’s easy to see.- Kyle Dugger after Tuesday's practice
He’s very athletic, and he learns well. He learns really well. There hasn’t been a lot of time, so that’s all I can really say, but he learns fast. Very smart."
"(He’s) coming to work every day, focusing in meetings. I think that’s the biggest thing you want to see with these rookies, man. Are they taking what Coach is saying in the meetings out to the field? And as of right now, he’s doing that."- Jalen Mills after Tuesday's practice
With just one OTA practice left for the media to attend this season, we likely won't have the chance to see much more from Gonzalez before the start of training camp next month. But how he's being used and his performance thus far provide a lot to look forward to and show he could easily be a day-one starter.