The Patriots traded up to select the Baylor speedster with the 50th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday night. New England sent a second-rounder (No. 54) and fifth-rounder (No. 158) to the Kansas City Chiefs for the right to draft Thornton.
And while the ESPN NFL draft expert was complimentary of Thornton’s on-field skillset, he couldn’t help but hint that the Patriots took him much higher than where they could have.
“You look at the speed, and you look at the production this year. He led the Baylor Bears with 62 catches, had 10 touchdowns receptions, had a career-high 187 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches against West Virginia — had a couple really strong games,” Kiper said on the ABC broadcast. “More than just a speed guy. He snatches the ball with his hands, good body control and has that slender frame, but he’s still willing to go across the middle and take the hit. He was a willing blocker in the Oklahoma game, I thought.
Kiper added: “I didn’t think Tyquan Thornton would go until the fourth round. I brought his name up with (ESPN’s Todd) McShay. We highlighted him as an ‘off-the-script guy.’ … They take him in the second (round) ahead of Skyy Moore — little question there from me. I thought the kid would be a good day three pick. He went about two rounds earlier than I projected.”
Kiper probably isn’t alone either. After all, Thornton didn’t crack Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL Media Top 150 and checked in at No. 155 on The Athletic’s consensus big board. Jeremiah was complimentary of Thornton on Friday night given his speed.
Strange, who was selected No. 29 overall, also viewed as a reach by more than than Kiper.