FOXBORO -- Over the first three weeks of his rookie season, Christian Gonzalez has shown that he is the real deal at cornerback. He's been thrown right into the fire and has yet to get burned against some of the NFL's best receivers.
Bill Belichick obviously thought highly of Gonzalez when he took the corner with the 17th overall pick back in April, and the Patriots head coach has praised of the 21-year-old whenever he's been asked about the rookie's impact on the field. On Monday, Belichick said that Gonzalez shares an important intangible quality with a great corner in New England history.
"One of the best things about Christian, especially at that position, is he's very even-keeled. He's not overly emotional one way another and he's got a good, calm demeanor – a lot like [Stephon] Gilmore did," Belichick said of Gonzalez during his Monday morning appearance on WEEI's The Greg Hill Show.
Belichick was obviously a big fan of Gilmore, giving him one of the richest contracts in team history back in 2017. Gilmore locked down opposing receivers for New England from 2017-2020, earning a pair of First-Team All-Pro honors, the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019, and a Super Bowl ring during his time with the Pats.
Gonzalez has a long way to go in term's of Gilmore's accolades, but he certainly shares that even-keeled demeanor that Gilmore showed on the field. The rookie has been matching up with the likes of Philadelphia's DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, Miami's Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and New York Jets star wideout Garrett Wilson, and he's thrived in each of those matchups.
That group of receivers has been held to a total of 28 catches and only two touchdowns against the Patriots, with Gonzalez handling the bulk of the coverage duties. Gonzalez has made his share of plays along the way, be it his first career interception late against Miami or nice open-field tackles to end drives.
The moment has never looked too big for Gonzalez, and when he does make a play of his own, he doesn't break out into a massive celebration. He simply moves on to the next play, ready to make another stop for the New England defense.
Gonzalez has been earning some lofty praise from around the NFL for what he's done on the field in his first three games as a professional. His head coach has also noticed how Gonzalez carries himself, which has left Bill Belichick thoroughly impressed with his rookie corner.
Fittingly, the Patriots are playing Gilmore and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
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