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Patriots credited with getting "steal of the draft" in Christian Gonzalez

Christian Gonzalez speaks after getting drafted by Patriots
Christian Gonzalez speaks after getting drafted by Patriots 00:22

BOSTON -- Very rarely can a team trade down to a later pick in the first round and still get one of the best players on the entire board. But on Thursday night, the Patriots did just that.

Sitting at No. 14, New England traded down three spots with Pittsburgh. The Steelers took offensive tackle Broderick Jones, the last available top tackle in the draft, while the Patriots pocketed an extra fourth-round pick.

Three picks later, though, cornerback Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon was still available, so the Patriots made their pick.

Gonzalez was either the No. 1 or No.2-ranked cornerback in the whole draft, with Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon (fifth overall, Seahawks) getting all of that praise. So for the Patriots to land him at No. 17 after moving down was considered quite the coup for Bill Belichick, Matt Groh and the Patriots' front office.

NFL analytics expert Kevin Cole labeled the pick the "steal of the draft" as Gonzalez averaged ninth on mock drafts and seventh on big boards.

Daniel Jeremiah echoed that thought.

ESPN's Field Yates expressed shock that Gonzalez lasted as long as he did.

A To Z Sports' Doug Kyed reported that a Patriots source said that he had expected Gonzalez to be gone in the top 10.

Touchdown Wire's Doug Farrar graded the pick with an A+.

"The Patriots may be ready to unleash a demon on the rest of the NFL, as nobody expected Gonzalez to last until the 17th overall pick, and he has everything required to exact revenge," he wrote.

The Patriots' moves in the draft are often unique, as evidenced by last year's selection of Cole Strange. And Thursday night's move out of No. 14 indicated that perhaps some more outside-the-box drafting was on the way.

Yet with Gonzalez available, the Patriots kept it simple. And by all accounts, they've added a great player.

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