Cowboys draft prospects scouting reports for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Name: Christian Gonzalez
Weight: 197 pounds
Combine Results: 4.38 40-yard dash, 41.5” vertical, 11’1” broad, 14 bench press reps
Christian Gonzalez was heavily courted coming out of high school, so it’s not much of a surprise to see that continue now that Gonzalez is preparing for the draft. The Texas native was a track star in addition to being a productive defensive back. Despite fielding offers from the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame, Gonzalez committed to Purdue before later flipping to Colorado.
By the time Gonzalez arrived on campus, the head coach he had committed to play for - Mel Tucker - had left for the Michigan State job. Gonzalez stuck it out for two years with the new staff, playing well despite the team going 8-10 over that span. Then, Gonzalez transferred to Oregon to play for new head coach Dan Lanning.
The move proved to be a great one, as Gonzalez had a career year for a high-profile team that made a push for the College Football Playoff. Then, Gonzalez had a stellar day at the combine, cementing his status as one of the best corners in this draft. As such, Gonzalez seems likely to be taken inside the top 15 picks of the draft. Just in case he slides for some reason, we’ll scout him for the Cowboys at 26.
Man Coverage: Gonzalez is a technician in man coverage. Oregon utilized a lot of press man techniques, and he was very consistent with his ability to strike receivers off the line of scrimmage and get in phase as a defender. He has very precise footwork and mirroring ability, and his excellent size allows Gonzalez to succeed from a variety of man coverage techniques.
Zone Coverage: He was perhaps even better in zone coverage. He has a great understanding of how to use his height and length to clog up passing lanes in his zone, and Gonzalez plays with very clean eyes when reading the offensive backfield.
Playmaking Ability: Gonzalez didn’t have a single interception until this past year, but then he recorded four. He has always been solid at affecting the ball in coverage, but his lone season in Oregon saw him play with a better feel for actually taking it away rather than batting it down. He’ll likely require continued work on developing his ball skills at the next level, but Gonzalez has the tools to become a consistent playmaker.
Athleticism: As mentioned earlier, Gonzalez was a track star in high school. That was on full display at the combine, too, as Gonzalez’s 40-yard dash was in the 95th percentile of corners; he also posted the second best Relative Athletic Score of his position group. That elite athleticism pops up everywhere on his film, too.
Run Support: As the kids would say, Gonzalez has that dawg in him. He’s a true competitor, and has a tenacity in run support you don’t often see from cornerbacks of his pedigree. He isn’t the strongest corner out there, so he occasionally gets muscled in run support, but it isn’t for a lack of trying.
Processing: Gonzalez appears to have great football IQ, which is especially evident in the way he reads the quarterback’s eyes in zone coverage. The defensive scheme at Oregon asks a lot of their corners, and he was able to excel in it with just one offseason of learning the playbook.
Intangibles: Gonzalez comes from a very athletic family. His father was a semi-pro basketball player in Colombia, and his three sisters are all track stars as well. He has been around various sports his entire life, and it shows with how athletic he is.