New England’s first-round draft pick seemingly was a hit among Patriots defensive backs past and present.
The Patriots on Thursday used the 17th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to select Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Minutes after the pick was announced, DBs Adrian Phillips and Jalen Mills and recently retired safety Devin McCourty all voiced their approval on Twitter.
Second-year cornerback Jack Jones, meanwhile, simply tweeted that he’s keeping jersey No. 13. He and Gonzalez both wore No. 0 in college.
Gonzalez, an elite athlete with the type of size (6-foot-1, 197 pounds), wasn’t expected to fall into the Patriots’ range. Most prominent draft analysts had him pegged as a top-10 pick and either the best cornerback prospect in this class or the second-best behind Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon (who went fifth overall to Seattle).
Instead, New England was able to trade down three spots, picking up an extra fourth-round pick from Pittsburgh in the process, and still land the talented 20-year-old. Gonzalez fills one of the Patriots’ biggest draft needs and will be expected to become the latest in a long line of Pro Bowl-caliber Patriots corners.
Gonzalez joins a position group headlined by Jonathan Jones, 2022 draft picks Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, and Myles Bryant. Mills was one of New England’s starting outside cornerbacks for the last two seasons but reportedly plans to move to safety ahead of the 2023 campaign. Shaun Wade, Quandre Mosely and Rodney Randle round out the Patriots’ cornerback depth chart.