The Patriots left the football world scratching its collective head when they selected Cole Strange at No. 29 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Matt Bowen, however, believes there was an even more puzzling pick within New England’s 10-player draft haul.
Bowen was among the 13-person panel tasked by ESPN to identify the most head-scratching pick in this year’s draft. The NFL analyst made a case for wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who Bill Belichick and company used the 50th overall pick on.
“Thornton has the vertical juice to stretch defenses down the field and the foot quickness to create route separation,” Bowen wrote. “But given the wide receiver talent on the board at No. 50 — including George Pickens, Alec Pierce and Skyy Moore — I felt the Patriots reached a little here to draft Thornton.”
The Patriots might have reached for Thornton, but it appears the Baylor product was a late riser heading into Round 1. The Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints reportedly were among the teams who ultimately viewed the speedy wideout as a Day 2 prospect although most projections tabbed Thornton as a later-round pick.
New England needed to improve its team speed and it ultimately landed one of the faster players in the draft. If Thornton can use his wheels to become a consistent playmaker in Foxboro, few likely will maintain a gripe about where he was drafted.