The New England Patriots entered the 2023 NFL Draft with some questions at the cornerback position, and it did not take long for them to be addressed. With the 17th overall selection in the first round, the team acquired Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez — one of the best players the draft had to offer this year, and a projected top-10 prospect.
Several factors contributed to Gonzalez’s slide, but one can be ruled out rather confidently: his injury history is virtually non-existent. While there is always a chance pre-draft medical checkups might have raised concerns, his history and eventual draft slot makes this unlikely.
With that said, let’s assess where Gonzalez stands heading into his Patriots career.
2021 (Colorado): Gonzalez was shaken up in the season opener against Northern Colorado, but walked off under his own power. He dis not miss any substantial time that game, or through the remainder of his sophomore campaign with the Buffaloes.
What it means for the Patriots
Between his two years at Colorado and one season at Oregon, Gonzalez appeared in 30 of a possible 31 games. He only missed one contest over the course of his college career when he opted out of the Ducks’ 2022 bowl game in preparation of making the move to the NFL.
Needless to say, the Patriots will feel very good about the durability he displayed in college. That does not guarantee his pro career will be more of the same — the physical toll of the pro game is a different one and freak accidents can always happen — but it removes one potential question mark from the equation. Gonzalez’s injury history is as clean as it can get for a player of his exposure the last three seasons.
The Patriots have never been afraid of gambling on talent even if the player in question had a somewhat iffy past in that area (see: Dominique Easley). Gonzalez does not fall into that category, which also adds to the optimism surrounding the pick.