New England Patriots select Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez in first round of NFL Draft

On3 imageby:Jarrid Denney04/27/23

jarrid_denney

For the fourth consecutive season, an Oregon Duck has been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

On Thursday, the New England Patriots selected former Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez with the 17th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Gonzalez joins Kayvon Thibodeaux (No. 5 overall, New York Giants, 2022), Penei Sewell (No. 7 overall, Detroit Lions, 2021), and Justin Herbert (No. 6 overall, San Diego Chargers, 2020) among recent first-round NFL Draft picks who spent their college career at Oregon.

“The sky’s the limit for Christian. Whatever team gets Christian, I mean, they’re hitting a home run,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said on April 22. “He’s one of the best corners I’ve ever been around and a better human. I’m excited for every one of our guys that have an opportunity for this draft. There’s gonna be a lot of great Ducks that get an opportunity to make NFL teams better and Christian, is certainly an example of that. Humble and hungry and I’m excited to see where he ends up.”

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In his lone season with the Ducks, Gonzalez established himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation.

In 12 games during the 2022 campaign, Gonzalez recorded 50 tackles, including 35 solo stops, and 1.0 tackles for loss. He hauled in four interceptions and broke up 11 passes.

Pro Football Focus issued Gonzalez a season grade of 81.0 overall — the second-best among Oregon defensive players and the 10th-best among Pac-12 defenders who play regularly.

At the NFL Combine in March, Gonzalez earned a 92 overall score from Next Gen Stats, which was the highest among this year’s cornerback class.

“I think it’s finally coming to light,” Gonzalez said following Oregon’s March 15 pro day. “I’ve always known I’m a good player and a player that can play at the next level. It’s good to finally see it but there’s still that chip on my shoulder there’s always something I got to prove and get better with.”

A former 4-star recruit, Gonzalez was the No. 310 overall prospect and the No. 27 player at his position in the class of 2020, according to the On3 Industry Rankings.

He committed to Colorado out of high school and spent his first two seasons in Boulder before opting to transfer to Oregon for his third season.

Gonzalez is the first Oregon cornerback selected in the NFL Draft since Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham were each selected in 2021.

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