Taking Cole Strange at No. 29 overall wasn’t the only Patriots pick that left football fans scratching their heads during the 2022 NFL Draft.
New England’s second-round selection of Tyquan Thornton prompted a similar reaction within the NFL community. Thornton’s blazing speed undoubtedly is exciting, but most draft gurus thought the Baylor wide receiver wouldn’t hear his name called until Saturday of draft weekend. The Patriots, however, felt he was worthy of the 50th overall pick.
Perhaps that’s because Bill Belichick and company thought they wouldn’t have another chance to grab Thornton. According to ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, New England wasn’t the only team that was very high on the 6-foot-2, 180-pound burner.
“New England is taking heat in media post-draft grades for reaching, but what emerged in pre-draft conversations is that Baylor wideout Tyquan Thornton wasn’t necessarily a reach for many teams,” Fowler wrote in a column published Monday. “The Patriots’ second-round pick (No. 50) also was on the radar of the Packers, Saints and others as a Day 2 option. He combined the 4.28 speed with strong interviews, as teams liked his football acumen. Some saw him as a Day 3 prospect, to be sure. But he was a classic riser in the weeks leading up to the draft, and the Patriots visited with him very late in the process, which was telling.”
Did the Patriots reach for Thornton? Probably. But New England desperately needed to improve its team speed and Mac Jones’ arsenal of weapons could use a legitimate home-run hitter. Thornton has a chance to check off both of those boxes with flying colors, and if he does, most will forget where he was drafted.