As previously discussed, when covering Kelee Ringo, cornerback is a need for the Seahawks defense. Yes, they do have Defensive Rookie of the Year runner up Tariq Woolen, but outside of Woolen, Seattle does not have a whole lot at corner. Tre Brown, recovering from a serious knee injury as a rookie, only played 21 defensive snaps, and rookie Coby Bryant showed flashes of potential but struggled in coverage as a slot corner. Michael Jackson Sr is a good corner who will likely return for 2023 as he is an exclusive rights free agent, but he is more of a CB3 than a CB2 on a playoff team.
This is a draft that has a bevy of first round caliber cornerback,s with a couple of them being top 10-15 talents in the draft. We are going to break down one of them in Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez.
Height - 6 foot 2 - Weight - 200
Games watched 2022 - Georgia, Washington, UCLA, Utah
- Gonzalez’s best attribute is his very good (7, on a 1-9 scale) play speed and acceleration.
- Gonzalez does a great job of getting in position on vertical routes by quickly flipping his hips once he recognizes it and then running at pace with the receiver. It is nearly impossible to stack Gonzalez on deep routes because of the positioning he takes up as well as his speed makes it difficult for receivers to get across his face.
- Gonzalez is a fantastic athlete, which is evident on his very good transitions (7) as well when he is triggering up the field to make a play in front of him or when he has to get his hips around quickly when a go turns into a curl.
- Gonzalez was rarely tasked with playing in off-man coverage but when he was, he looked more than comfortable. He did a good job of staying in phase throughout the course of the route with the use of his athleticism.
- When he was traditionally pedaling in Cover 3 it looked fluid as he stayed light on his toes, and he was able to gain depth rather quickly.
- As a cloud zone defender in Cover 2, Gonzalez gained great depth and had an understanding of when to hand receivers off to the deep half defenders to allow him to come up on the underneath routes.
- He has very good (7) ball skills and hands tracking the ball almost like a receiver and being able to make a play on the ball from any position.
- Gonzalez will make for a great cat blitzer at the next level because of his quick acceleration.
- Gonzalez is rather passive with his hand usage during the course of the route. He rarely uses them off of the line of scrimmage to try and jam the receiver and more often than not he opts to use his athleticism to stay in phase rather than his hands.
- In press man Gonzalez has his struggles. He gets too low into his starting position as his back is almost parallel to the ground; meaning his feet, hips and shoulder are not aligned resulting in wasted movement. Additionally, his footwork can get sloppy as he almost leans back with his upper body causing him to get on his heels and play with loud feet.
- He also has a tendency to overplay his leverage in press man which allows receivers to create even more separation.
- His feet did have a tendency to cross over in Cover 3.
- Gonzalez looks a bit lost at times in understanding where he needs to be in order to contain the edge against the run.
- He needs to be more aggressive in attacking the outside shoulder of receivers on the boundaries in running plays to force them up field making the running back cut inside. He attacks blockers a little too passively at times.
- Gonzalez is not a form tackler; he tends to throws his shoulders into the thigh of the ball carrier rather than trying to wrap them up around their midsection.
Floor/ceiling - Gonzalez’s fantastic athleticism, ability to stay in phase, ball skills, and fluid hips give him the ceiling of a true three-down starting corner, although his struggles in press coverage, passiveness with his hands and poor tackling technique give him the floor of a role-playing starter. It should be noted the Seahawks have not taken a corner in the first round since 2006.
Grade - 6.6 2nd/3rd starting corner with inside outside flexion on first day of second season - Mid first
Grade explanation - Gonzalez has all of the traits you could want in a corner in terms of athleticism, length, and instinct. Those three things alone allow him to maintain a higher floor than most as well as giving him the ceiling of a true one.
There is some refinement that is required in his game, which for me personally keeps him out of the class of the recent elite draft eligible corners like Ahmad Gardner and Patrick Surtain ll. Gonzalez stepping in and having a massive year one impact similar to Tariq Woolen’s is not impossible because of how good of an athlete he is, but I think that type of impact is far more likely late in his second season instead of in his first.
Schematic fit - Gonzalez is best suited for a scheme that is heavy in off coverage. He profiles well as a zone corner in Cover 2 or 3 due to his understanding of depth and pedal speed, but he can also play well in a man coverage scheme because of his athleticism and how well he can stay in phase with the receiver.