Patriots move up to draft speedy Tyquan Thornton in second round

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 01: Tyquan Thornton #9 of the Baylor Bears (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 01: Tyquan Thornton #9 of the Baylor Bears (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots went against the grain to select Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. After a trade up, Bill Belichick decided to slightly reach once again after being seduced by the elite speed of a top prospect.

The Patriots needed to get Mac Jones some extra help at the wide receiver position, as a group led by names like Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers needs one more standout that can stretch the field and make plays down the field. New England’s second-round pick might be the fastest player in the draft.

The Patriots traded up with the Kansas City Chiefs to select Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton with the No. 50 pick in the draft. Thornton blew up on social media when he came just a few ticks shy of breaking the NFL Combine record in the 40-yard dash.

New England has had a spotty draft record with drafting wide receivers but failures like that of N’Keal Harry did not possess the game-breaking speed that Thornton has. Even against experienced NFL corners, Thornton will be able to get downfield and impact defenses with his verticality.

The New England Patriots drafted Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton

A four-year contributor for both Matt Rhule and Dave Aranda in Waco, the 6-3, 182-pound Thornton broke out with 948 yards and 10 touchdowns last year despite some injuries at quarterback. The speed that Thronton brings to the table is not just a combine outlier, as he can make plays deep in his sleep.

Thronton’s speed will make him both a field-stretcher for Jones and the type of player who can make plays underneath. A solid route-runner on intermediate concepts, Thornton’s big-play potential will be his meal ticket if he wants to stick in New England. His tape against West Virginia was so good that it should have been illegal.

Thornton was considered a fourth or fifth-round pick by The Athletic’s consensus big board. His skinny frame will lead to some rough adjustments against NFL press coverage. With small hands and some iffy results playing through contact, Thornton is certainly a raw player.

While this is sure to be another polarizing pick, Thornton’s speed is so lethal that he could be New England’s most dangerous offensive player. If he busts, however, he’ll be the latest in a list of receivers that the Patriots have overdrafted. He will need to be brought along very judiciously to succeed.