So, who should the Las Vegas Raiders draft in April? Well, there are a bevy of options. What about Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez? Let’s take a closer look at our latest scouting report.
After transferring to Oregon from Colorado, Christian Gonzalez finally displayed production in the turnover department when he had four interceptions in 2022. With another seven passes defended, his ball skills were on full display. However, it is the way he achieved this production that makes him such an exciting prospect.
Unbelievably fluid in man coverage, he does a fantastic job getting his hips flipped and mirroring receivers down the field. When the ball arrives, he does well to get his head around it and make a play on it. When in press coverage, he is a physical player who delivers a powerful punch to redirect routes.
In zone coverage, his football intelligence really shines as he is able to play through the quarterback’s eyes, diagnose route concepts, and make plays on the ball. It’s this skill set, coupled with his physicality and tackling ability, that gives him some position versatility, as safety appears to be a natural fit for him as well, especially later in his career.
Truly, the only concern I have with Gonzalez’s game at this point is his size. At a skinny 201 pounds, he could struggle to match up with the bigger receivers in the NFL. However, whichever team drafts him will make adding size a top priority.
Of course, like all young corners, adapting to the speed of NFL receivers will be a hurdle, but this is to be expected with all rookies.
A prototypical NFL corner, Gonzalez is a scheme-diverse playmaker who instantly upgrades any defensive unit he is part of. Sticky in man coverage and opportunistic in zone, he will almost certainly be a first-round selection. Personally, I would have no problem taking him in the top ten, and I believe he has a long NFL career ahead of him and will be a Pro Bowl-caliber player early on in his career.
Raiders Draft Talk: Does Christian Gonzalez fit with Las Vegas?
As mentioned, Gonzalez is a fit on any defense that drafts him. In Las Vegas, he would form an exciting young duo with Nate Hobbs. Not only would they have the potential to be one of the best duos in the league, but their versatility would aid the unit as well.
For the last several seasons, the Raiders have lacked an identity on defense. Gonzalez would bring a much-needed attitude change to the team with his confidence. Las Vegas needs all the help they can get on defense, and Gonzalez is as good as it gets.
*Top Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports