Cornerback is an obvious offseason need for the Detroit Lions, but one particular prospect at the position has become a popular pick for them in early mock drafts.
Heading into the offseason, off the high of a 9-8 season and eight wins in their last 10 games, the Detroit Lions now will face a harsh reality. The defense still needs help, and it’s not out of the question the entire cornerback room will be overhauled besides 2022 seventh-round pick Chase Lucas.
With two first-round picks, both in the top-20 and one in the top-10 (thank you, Los Angeles Rams) and another pick in the top-50 overall, the Lions are well-equipped to add some good young talent again. Using one of those two first-rounders (No. 6 and No. 18 overall) on a cornerback feels like a no-brainer.
Detroit Lions tied to a certain cornerback in early mock drafts
Sixth overall feels a little early to draft a cornerback, and some recent mocks have the Lions going with defensive line or even a quarterback there. But new mocks from Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports and James Fragoza of Pro Football Network, along with some others (h/t to NFL Mock Draft Database), have landed on a certain cornerback for Detroit at No. 18.
First up is Wilson:
"Christian Gonzalez, a Colorado transfer, is a big-time athlete who is still growing into the position. He has the size, strength and speed to line up against NFL wide receivers; he just needs to improve in run support."
"18) Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez, CB, OregonTypically, teams like to build from the trenches out. In today’s NFL, you need athletic marvels on the outside, which is a fitting description of Christian Gonzalez. The Oregon CB shouldn’t be as fluid as he is at 6’2″ and 200 pounds — not to mention he has the long speed to carry routes downfield, suffocating WRs with his length."
After two years at Colorado, Gonzalez transferred to Oregon in 2022. In 12 games this past season he had 50 total tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups. As noted above, he’s big (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), fast and fluid. A shortened season in 2020 due to COVID-19, six games at Colorado, means Gonzalez has a relatively modest 30 college games on his resume. But he never missed a game due to injury.
For many analysts Gonzalez is only below Kelee Ringo (Georgia), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) and Cam Smith (South Carolina) among cornerback prospects in this year’s draft class right now, if he’s even below all three. ESPN’s Todd McShay has had him as the No. 2 corner, only behind Ringo.
A big, fast corner who is more fluid than his size indicates and may have a little untapped potential as he fully refines his game? Lions fans would certainly sign up for that at No. 18 overall, if not No. 6.