Judging by Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s November assessment of wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, whom the Patriots traded to acquire in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday, the fast receiver has the kind of work ethic that works well in New England.
“I think he’s matured,” Aranda told the Waco Tribune. “Ty was, from the start, blessed with great length, speed and athleticism. I think where Ty really grew was his practice habits, his mindset, his attitude towards work. I think those things really took off, and I think there were probably some tough lessons in all of that.
Many projections saw Thornton as a third- or fourth-rounder, but for the second night in a row, the Patriots picked a player ahead of expectations. Here are a few things to know about Thornton (6-foot-2, 181 pounds).
He is really fast
Thornton clocked 4.28 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and he told CBS Sports that being the fastest receiver there was a goal.
“We knew going into the combine that I was going to use 4.2, but I was aiming for a low 4.2. The moment, like when it happened, I was filled with a lot of emotions. I felt proud of all the work we put into it that week, and to see it all pay off in those 40 years. I was definitely proud of myself,” he said.
He initially thought he had broken the Combine record for 40, but a time adjustment later left him just six hundredths short of the mark of 4.22 set by John Ross in 2017.
He immediately contributed to Baylor
Thornton was on the court early in his four-year career at Baylor, appearing in 13 games as a rookie and catching 20 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns. He played 14 games in 2019 and 2021 and had 45 or more receptions in each, but only had 16 catches in the six games he played in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
As a senior in 2021, Thornton led Baylor with 62 receptions and 10 touchdowns and was third in the Big 12 in receiving yards with 948. Baylor went 12-2 and beat Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl, a victory of 21-7 topped by Thornton’s 2-fourth quarter touchdown reception, his only catch of the game.
Thornton had a season-high 187 yards on eight receptions against West Virginia, one of three 100-yard receiving games as a senior. He has another 100-yard game, sophomore against Iowa State.
He is from Miami and also played a small quarterback
Thornton played football and ran at Booker T. Washington High in Miami, and chose Baylor over Florida, which he was originally committed to, as well as Georgia, Miami, LSU and Tennessee.
He also played a quarterback in high school and even used those skills in a Baylor win over Texas last fall when he hit a six-yard TD after receiving a pitch. Hmmm, could the Patriots have a trick up their sleeve next season?
Thornton was also a star on the track and posted a personal best of 10.5 in the 100 meters.
A high professional comparison
Thornton told CBS Sports he’s shaping his game after Raiders catcher Davante Adams, who spent the 2014-2021 seasons with the Packers and was a five-time Pro Bowler.
“I love the way he maps out his routes and he makes the quarterback job a lot easier. It’s wide open most of the time, creating all this separation from the DBs. said Thornton. “I feel like I’m trying to model my game after him, while adding a bit more speed to it and using that fluctuation in speed, going from slow to fast, fast to slow, and being able to create separation. Because I mean as a receiver, that’s what you have to do to open up.
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