One of the more impressive cover corners in the entire 2023 NFL Draft class, while it remains to be seen just how high Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez goes in April, his elite physical intangibles and fluidity in coverage could allow him to become an elite perimeter stalwart from day one. Here are my favorite fits, schematically, for Christian Gonzalez.
Things are on the up and up in Detroit and expectations have followed suit. Mike Hughes and Amani Oruwariye are both free agents, but even if they were under contract, it shouldn’t prohibit general manager Brad Holmes from taking an athlete like Gonzalez. A smooth, intelligent defender in the secondary, he and Jeff Okudah could evolve into the NFC North’s top corner tandem in short order.
I like Darius Slay, but he’s starting to get some wear and tear on the tires and his running mate James Bradberry is without a contract. It remains to be seen who the Eagles hire as their defensive coordinator from a philosophy perspective, but adding Gonzalez to a defense that will get after the passer makes life easier in the secondary. Gonzalez, as good as he is in coverage, will be presented with opportunities to make plays on the football from any alignment he finds himself in.
Washington’s defense ranked in the top 10 in both points and yards allowed, but reinforcements are needed badly at the roof and Gonzalez would immediately become CB1. Ideally, Kendall Fuller could be pushed back inside to the slot, and the 6-foot-2 corner in Gonzalez and 2021 third-rounder Benjamin St-Juste could provide a foundation for the future on the outside. Countering the likes of CeeDee Lamb, DeVonta Smith, and A.J. Brown multiple times a year is a tall task, but Gonzalez has every club in the bag toward becoming a standout shutdown corner.
Gonzalez AND A.J. Terrell? Sign me up. From a numbers perspective, Terrell wasn’t perfect this fall, but allowing him to stay home on one side of the field with the former Oregon Duck working opposite would lift the performance ceiling of a defense that finished 25th (231.9) in yards allowed through the air. Atlanta is extremely young on defense, but slotting in a talent that’s both spry in the legs and is just a flat-out good football player is good business.
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