Patriots’ selection of Tyquan Thornton surprises analysts, again

"I didn't think Tyquan would go until the fourth round."

Tyquan Thornton ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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After trading down before making their pick in the first round, the Patriots traded up for 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 its guy.

ESPN’s lead draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. initially gave strong praise for Thornton.

“When you think about Tyquan Thornton, he’s 6-foot-2 and change, 181 [pounds], he can run. He can fly and had a 36.5-inch vertical,” Kiper said on ESPN’s broadcast of the selection. “You look at the speed, you look at the 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 touchdowns on eight catches against West Virginia – had a couple really strong games.


“The attention-getter was the sub 4.4 [40-yard dash] at the combine. He’s more than just a speed guy. He snatches the ball with his hands – has good body control. He’s got that slender frame, but he’s still willing to go across the middle and make a catch and take a hit. He was a willing blocker in the Oklahoma game I thought. You think about Oklahoma St. in the Big 12 title game, he had six catches.”

Despite the strong praise for Thornton though, Kiper shared he was a bit shocked by the pick. After all, he had Thornton ranked as the No. 193rd prospect on his big board.

“I didn’t think Tyquan would go until the fourth round,” Kiper said. “I brought his name up with [fellow ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd] McShay. We highlighted him as an off-the-script guy. …I thought he would be a fourth-rounder. They take him in the second ahead of Skyy Moore, which is a little questionable to me. I thought he would be a good Day 3 pick, but he went two rounds earlier than I thought.”

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


However, Jeremiah and college football analyst Joel Klatt were complimentary of Thornton on the NFL Network broadcast.

“Joel, you mentioned trying to get fast, well this was the fastest receiver at the combine. He ran a 4.28 out of Baylor,” Jeremiah said. “…If you want somebody to get vertical and stretch the field and create space for everybody else, this is going to be someone that’s going to get that accomplished.”

“He had a track scholarship offer from LSU. I mean, this dude is blazing fast,” Klat said. “But he’s also got good hands. He’s not just a speedster. He’s a sure-handed wide receiver. He finished in the top 10 in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in Baylor history.”

“And what I saw very quickly, he runs better routes than people give him credit for,” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis added.

It appears NFL teams viewed Thornton much more highly than draft pundits did. At least one team had Thornton as the top receiver on their board entering Day 2, Pro Football Focus’s Doug Kyed reported.

The Patriots’ selection of Thornton began a mini run of receivers getting selected. 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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