FOXBORO, MASS. — Tyquan Thornton might be the most polarizing, criticized member of the 2022 Patriots draft class. Sure, the Cole Strange pick has been ripped apart, but at least Strange entered the draft with an early round billing.
Thornton, on the other hand, was taken in the second round despite many experts placing a late-round label on the skinny, lightning-fast wideout.
As such, the Baylor product will be one of the most talked-about players at New England’s training camp. That he plays wide receiver only adds to the intrigue.
So, how did Thornton, who was just getting his feet wet in spring practices, look in Wednesday’s training camp opener? Well, it was a day of highs and lows for the 21-year-old.
Thornton, unlike fellow young receiver Tre Nixon, saw substantial time with Mac Jones and the first-team offense. That’s an encouraging sign, as the Patriots likely wouldn’t be shy about relegating Thornton to second and scout-team duties if they weren’t satisfied with his progress.
However, all of Thornton’s actual production came with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. The two connected for a pair of diving receptions during 7-on-7 drills, with one of the plays being a touchdown against rookie corner Jack Jones — who struggled throughout the practice.
But it wasn’t all pretty for Thornton. He was handled with ease at one point by Malcolm Butler, whose press coverage shut down the slender receiver. Thornton stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs in at 181 pounds, which could be a problem once padded practices start next week.
As for Thornton’s speed, he didn’t really get a chance to showcase it Wednesday. In fact, nobody did. All competitive drills took place in the red zone, meaning there were no opportunities for Thornton to show off his downfield-threat abilities.
That said, if you checked out our film review on Thornton, you know he brings much more to the table than straight-line speed. He’s capable of running a relatively diverse route tree and is willing to go over the middle and take hits. Whether he can hold up against the physicality of the NFL is a different question, though.
The Patriots will practice again Thursday, Friday and Saturday before enjoying an off day Sunday. The sessions are expected to increase in duration and intensity as the week progresses.
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