By Adam Aniba
This year's cornerback class boasts multiple plug & play potential shutdown corners, but Oregon's Christian Gonzalez is viewed by many evaluators to have the highest ceiling in the class.
Gonzalez was one of the most sought after prospects during the college recruiting process and surprised many by initially turning down multiple Power-5 conference scholarship offers.
6'2" 201 lbs | CB | Oregon
1st Rd Grade
Career CU/OR (30 games) 128 TAK (100 solo), 6 TFL, 4 INT & 21 PD
2022 (12 games) 50 TAK (35 solo), 1 TFL, 4 INT, 11 PD & 1 FG BLOCK
Gonzalez attended The Colony HS (TCHS) in Texas, where he played safety and receiver. He also was on the track & field team and had a personal best of 21.6 seconds in the 200-meters in the Texas State Championships.
In his two seasons playing for TCHS he helped lead his team to a 17-5 overall record. During his career he compiled 46 TAK, 3 INT, 17 PD, 2FF and 2 FR. On offense, he recorded 65 receptions, 12 TDs in addition to 187 yards rushing for 2 more scores (1,394 all-purpose yards and 18 total TDs).
Gonzalez was ranked as a 4-Star prospect and one of the top 50 players in the state of Texas by ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals. The TCHS defensive back was named First-Team All-District 5-5A in back-to-back seasons.
His senior season was his best, registering 17 TAK, 8 PD, 2 interceptions, 1 FF and 1 FR. On offense he recorded 43 receptions for 650 yards and 10 touchdowns, 4 rushes for 89 yards and 1 touchdown. He also returned a kick 75 yards for a TD (13 total touchdowns on the year).
Gonzalez received over two dozen scholarship offers from D1 programs, highlighted by Alabama, Notre Dame and OSU. Gonzalez initially committed to Purdue, but decommitted and instead decided to accept Colorado's offer.
During his two seasons at Colorado, Gonzalez recorded 10 pass breakups, but didn't record an interception. The former 4-Star defensive back entered the transfer portal for his '22 junior season and accepted an offer to play for Oregon.
His ability to create turnovers was in question, but he calmed critiques with his 4 interceptions in '22. Two of those interceptions came against his former team, displaying one of the more impressive performances of the college season vs Colorado.
Gonzalez demonstrates coverage flexibility in press and zone coverage. He lined up predominantly as a press corner and displayed an effective punch at the line. He also saw snaps as a situational safety and was effective in zone, where he's able to survey the field with his eyes locked onto the quarterback.
Coaches Pac-12 All-Conference first team
Phil Steele All-Pac-12 first team
Associated Press All-Pac-12 second team
Pro Football Focus All-Pac-12 second team
Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week (Week 10)
DIsplayed the ability to be a ballhawk in '22 with 4 interceptions & 7 passes defended (both career highs)
Fluid hips/backpedal with Impressive change of direction in press or off coverage to mirror receivers
Long, athletic and extremely quick, demonstrated impressive recovery speed & leaping ability to disrupt 50/50 balls
Displays textbook tacking ability and can be an asset in run support
Versatile prospect that lined up at CB and S during his college career, in addition to showing his value on special teams (1 FG Block in '22)
Zero career college interceptions until '22, some view him as a one-year wonder
Too often relies on his recovery speed, giving up too much ground
Tends to bite on double moves, forcing him to get grabby
Can be overpowered at times by stronger receivers
Has only played cornerback full time for 3 years (HS Safety and WR)
Although the '23 cornerback class is deep, Gonzalez had one of the better seasons production wise and could be just scratching to surface of his potential.
It's been reported by The Athletic, that the Ducks cornerback was clocked at 23.3 mph in drills, as well as recording a 42" vertical leap and power-cleaned 325 pounds.
Gonzalez will no doubt be one of the most impressive prospects at this year's NFL Combine and will impress scouts and coaches with his speed and overall athleticism. In a loaded cornerback class, the Ducks CB could be the first defensive back to come off the board in the '23 NFL Draft.
*Games Watched- 9/3/22 vs UGA, 9/10 vs E.WASH, 10/22 vs UCLA, 10/29 vs CAL, 11/5 vs COL, 11/12 vs WASH, 11/19 vs UTAH & 11/26 vs ORE ST.
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