The New England Patriots, after swapping picks with Pittsburgh and moving from No. 14 to No. 17, still addressed an area of significant need at the NFL Draft on Thursday night by selecting Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez.

Gonzalez entered the night as a consensus top-10 talent, according to most media draft experts. The 6-foot-1, 199-pounder could become a Day 1 starter for the Patriots. He snatched four interceptions, broke up 11 passes and blocked a field goal last year as an All-Pac-12 first-teamer.

Speaking on stage to NFL Network, Gonzalez gave his initial reaction to being drafted by New England.

“It means everything. Super excited for this opportunity,” Gonzalez said. “I can’t wait to get out there and just go to work.”

Gonzalez, who transferred to Oregon after two seasons at Colorado, has a versatile skillset and was effective both in coverage and against the run, notching four interceptions and 50 tackles last season.

At the NFL combine, Gonzalez tested as one of the best athletes in the entire draft. He clocked a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, leapt 41.5 inches in the vertical jump and cranked out 14 bench press reps at 225 pounds. Gonzalez has all the tools to play the Patriots’ preferred man-to-man style of defense and joins Jonathan Jones, Jack Jones, Marcus Jones and Shaun Wade on the team’s depth chart.


With the trade of picks with the Steelers, New England moved down three spots and also acquired the No. 120 overall pick in the fourth round.

The Steelers selected Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones, one pick ahead of the Jets, who needed offensive line help. New York followed with the first major reach of the draft, taking Iowa State edge defender Will McDonald at 15th, and the Commanders added Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes with the No. 16 pick.

New England ran its streak of making at least one trade during the draft to 19 years. During Coach Bill Belichick’s tenure, the Patriots have declined to make a draft-day trade only once, in 2004.

The Patriots will enter Day 2 of the draft holding 11 remaining picks and are set to pick 15th in the second round (46th overall) and 13th in the third round (76th overall). New England holds at least one pick in every round except for the fifth.

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