Patriots’ selection of Tyquan Thornton surprises analysts again


“I didn’t think Tyquan would make it to the fourth round.”

Tyquan Thornton ran the fastest 40-yard sprint at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Patriots trade for speed demon WR Tyquan Thornton in second round

After trading before making their first-round pick, the Patriots traded their second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

New England selected Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton with the No. 50 overall pick, moving up from No. 54 overall and giving up a fifth-round pick in order to get his guy.

ESPN’s senior project analyst Mel Kiper Jr. initially praised Thornton.

“When you think of Tyquan Thornton, he’s 6-foot-2 and changes, 181 [pounds], he can run. He can fly and had a vertical of 36.5 inches,” Kiper said when ESPN broadcast the selection. “You look at speed, you look at production this year, he led the Baylor Bears with 62 catches. He had 10 touchdown receptions. He had a career-high 187 yards with two of eight touchdown catches against West Virginia — had a couple of really solid games.

“What caught the eye was the sub 4.4 [40-yard dash] to the combine harvester. He’s more than just a speed guy. He catches the ball with his hands – has good body control. He’s got that slender frame, but he’s always ready to go through the middle and take a hold and take a hit. I thought he was a willing blocker in the Oklahoma game. You think Oklahoma St. in the Big 12 title game, he had six catches.

Despite the praise for Thornton, Kiper shared that he was a bit shocked by the choice. After all, he had Thornton ranked 193rd among prospects on his big board.

“I didn’t think Tyquan would make it to the fourth round,” Kiper said. “I mentioned his name with [fellow ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd] McShay. We highlighted him as an off-script guy. … I thought it would be a fourth round. They take it second to Skyy Moore, which is a bit questionable to me. I thought he would be a good choice for Day 3, but he did two laps earlier than I thought.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network’s top draft expert, also didn’t rank Thornton highly. In fact, he didn’t rank Thornton in his top 150 draft prospects at all.

However, Jeremiah and college football analyst Joel Klatt complimented Thornton on the NFL Network show.

“Joel, you mentioned trying to go fast, well he was the fastest receiver in the combine. He ran a 4.28 on Baylor,” Jeremiah said. “…If you want someone to verticalize, stretch the field and create space for everyone, it’s going to be someone who can do it.”

“He had a scholarship offer from LSU. I mean, this guy is extremely fast,” Klat said. “But he also has good hands. It’s not just a speedster. He’s a confident wide receiver. He finished in the top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in Baylor history.

“And what I’ve seen very quickly, he’s running better routes than people give him credit for,” added NFL Network analyst Charles Davis.

It seems the NFL teams liked Thornton a lot more than the draft pundits. At least one team had Thornton as the top receiver on their roster at the start of Day 2, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus reported.

Thornton’s Patriots selection began a mini streak of selected receivers. After the Eagles selected Nebraska center Cameron Jurgens with the No. 51 overall pick, the Steelers (George Pickens), Colts (Alec Pierce) and Chiefs (Skyy Moore) selected receivers with the next three picks .


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