Patriots CB Christian Gonzalez is not what draft evaluators think. it’s better


Christian Gonzalez He made a business decision to end his college career. Knowing that it will be announced 2023 NFL DraftGonzalez said Oregon Coach Dan Lanning said he would not play in the team’s game. However, this was not the end of Gonzalez’s career with the Ducks.

Lanning has a policy of letting leads train on their own, which also means not bringing them to a bowl game. Historically, opting out has distracted the rest of the team. But that wasn’t the case with Gonzalez, who remained committed to his teammates. In fact, he did something Lanning hadn’t seen before in his time at Oregon, Georgia or AlabamaThe corner attended every practice, meeting and exercise.

Gonzalez went so far as an honorary assistant coach to cornerbricks head coach Demetrius Martin. When it’s time to organize the trip to play North Carolina At the Holiday Bowl, Lanning’s idea took shape. So he removed Gonzalez.

“Christian, I’m going to take you to the game,” Lanning told him. “You earned it. You’ve been here supporting your guys like 20 days in a row showing up with everything.”

Gonzalez attended the Holiday Bowl primarily through his role as an assistant coaching staff.

“He really did a very good job making some adjustments,” Martin said. “He talked to me about some of the things he saw there.”

Gonzales may have been misunderstood a bit. Because while he did what was best for him, he did whatever was best for the team afterwards. NFL punters may have docked his stock due to a lack of competitiveness after skipping a bowl game.

But this would be just another example of the assessors getting Gonzalez wrong.

Sure, there was a sense of surprise when Gonzalez ended up being the third cornerback off the board during the first round last month. He was widely rated in the media as the number one prospect in his position. However, the New England Patriots They were able to go back from No. 14 to No. 17 and still land Gonzales. Gonzalez appeared to baffle a few NFL teams, which led to him picking a cornerback. Devon Witherspoon (No. 5) and Emmanuel Forbes (No. 16) in front of him.

Highlights Christian Gonzalez from Oregon State

Take a look at Christian Gonzalez football’s best plays for Oregon in the 2022 college football season.

Being overlooked is nothing new for Gonzalez. It started when he was just getting out of high school. Martin, who was an assistant with Arizona Wildcats At the time, he had to beg head coach Kevin Sumlin to take a look at Gonzalez in person.

“I don’t think he’s fast enough,” Sumlin told Martin.

For those of you who know Gonzalez, well, you might be laughing at the comment. For those unfamiliar with the running back, Gonzalez ran the 40-yard dash of 4.38 seconds at the NFL Combine. He’s fast enough for the NFL. So he was definitely fast enough to go through college. He was, in fact, one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in the entire 2023 draft.

[Bill Belichick had never had a CB prospect quite like Christian Gonzalez]

But ignoring Gonzalez wasn’t necessarily Sumlin’s fault. He was working out bad numbers – an old set of results from track and field. While Martin pushed and pushed, Arizona chose not to extend his scholarship. Instead, he chose Gonzalez Colorado On schools like AlabamaAnd Ohio StateAnd Miami And Arizona. He also committed to then undoing Bordeaux.

When Colorado turned over the staff, Martin serendipitously landed there in Gonzales’ first year. “trainer [Karl Dorrell] Martin thought Gonzo’s hamburger was far from safe. But just as he pleaded with Martin Sumlin to offer Gonzalez the scholarship, Martin pleaded with Dorrell to let Gonzalez play the cornerback, even with his 6-foot-1 frame (a bit tall for a typical cornerback) by the season opener during Gonzales’ senior year, The cornerback group dealt with enough injuries that Durrell accepted Martin’s request. Gonzalez started at linebacker in his first college game.

And while you’d think Martin and Gonzalez were best friends at that point, they really weren’t.

“Gonzo wasn’t very fond of me at first because I was always with him,” Martin said. “[He] He was thinking, “Why does the corner coach harass me every day on the field?”

Yes. But actually, why?

“I knew he had greatness in him and things were getting easier for him and he didn’t know how great a player he was,” Martin said.

While Gonzalez managed to elevate his play in Colorado, the situation became murky behind the scenes. Martin gets a job at Oregon under its new head coach, Lanning. And Martin wasn’t the only coach to come out of Boulder. As Martin said: “Things are just starting to fall apart.” So Gonzalez was among a number of players who put their names on the transfer portal to see where they might get. And – shock – the person who pitched the best pitch was none other than Martin.

Now this is where another misconception enters Gonzales’ story. during the draft process, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin asked Gonzalez why he left Colorado for Oregon, hoping to hear something about his desire to advance in competition. instead of, In Sports IllustratedGonzalez said he intended to follow Martin to the ducks. And considering what happened to Colorado (who started the season 0-5 and fired Durrell), it’s hard to blame Gonzalez for finding a more stable situation. It’s also easy to understand why he didn’t want Colorado to burn in front of Tomlin.

Then there is another misconception about Gonzalez, which is that he is not an alpha. It is one of those expressions that lack a concrete definition. CB1 was a duck. He’s matched up with top-notch receivers. He has all the physical and mental tools he needs to excel in the NFL. However, after Gonzalez dropped out of the top 10 all the way to New England at 17, the defender faced criticism from an unknown. NFL scout Greg Bedard told Boston Sports Journal, “Christian is not an alpha. …it may not be fatal.”

This kind of sentiment rubbed Martin the wrong way.

“This was a question I get all the time [during the pre-draft process]said Martin. You can classify him as not an alpha dog. But you can’t say it’s not a dog. It’s a dog. But what is your definition of alpha? “

There is this thought Corner should talk trashLikes Jalen Ramsey And Gardner sauce Do. CB1s are supposed to have big personalities. But Gonzalez mostly keeps to himself.

“I like it when the corner supports his speech. But I also like it when the fullback doesn’t say anything and he supports that too,” said Martin.

There is something understated about Gonzales’ existence.

“You wouldn’t be able to tell he was being so hard on himself by his behavior — being the soft-spoken type,” said Martin. “Gonzo is an easy athlete. And I think he can make people think he’s not working hard — or he’s not going as fast as he can or should go.”

During Gonzales’ final college season with Oregon State, he worked in Lanning’s loyal defensive system. Much like offenses are oversimplified in college—leading to a lack of skills translatable to the NFL—defenses respond similarly. But that doesn’t apply to the Oregon defense, which is derived from the Georgia defense that led to first-round picks.

“You can watch a lot of college football right now and not see people play a wide variety of styles,” said Lanning. “[But] We’ll ask these guys [at corner] To do a lot of different things, whether it’s a right press, whether it’s a bail, or a corner squat. You will have a checklist of all the techniques used in the movie.”

It’s a checklist that impressed the Patriots.

Gonzalez played not only outside, but also inside when that was the opponent’s biggest threat. The clearest example was against Arizona, where he was the team’s biggest threat, Jacob suckled, played in the hole. González took first choice, even if it meant moving to a position he hasn’t always played. Consider what the Patriots did at cornerback Stephen Gilmore: New England once asked Gilmore to shade her heads tight end Travis Kelsey complete game.

The more you can do the more, right?

Patriots manager Matt Groh praised Lanning’s system and Gonzalez’s execution in it. He’s a big part of what drives New England’s defensive back.

“That experience, that knowledge, that education, will only accelerate his development here into the NFL,” Groh said after the first day of the draft. “But for all of these guys, it’s a huge leap. Christian will just have to pick up the pace as quickly as possible. We look forward to working with him and helping him do that.”

There’s an obvious Gonzalez comparison: Gilmore, the guy who lets his play do all the talking. Gilmore is so soft-spoken during press conferences that he is sometimes inaudible in bewilderment. However he has made multiple Pro Bowl seasons and has a Super Bowl ring. Ramsay is one hell of a corner, and his trash talk makes it all the better. Gilmore is a cornerstone, and his silence makes him a killer.

Gonzalez is a smooth worker, even when the going gets tough. Look no further than Draft Night. As the linebacker sat in the green room backstage and other players walked off the plate, Martin began to panic. But Gonzalez wasn’t sweating.

“He just gave me that little look and whispered, ‘Don’t worry, I got you,'” Martin said. “When they made the selection, he came up to me and said, ‘We’ll make them pay. We’ll make them pay.'”

These words sound like alpha words.

Prior to joining FOX Sports as an AFC East correspondent, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @employee.

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