Grading All Day 2 NFL Draft picks after Patriots add key depth

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 14: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 14: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Tyquan Thornton, New England Patriots
Sep 11, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (9) catches a touchdown pass as Texas Southern Tigers defensive back Ja’Corey Benjamin (8) Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots needed to really nail things on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft. After shocking many by taking Chattanooga lineman Cole Strange in the first round, the Patriots needed to address holes at wide receiver while beefing up a defense that isn’t as sharp as it was in 2021.

The Patriots decided to add a faster wide receiver in Baylor speed demon Tyquan Thornton in the second round. While they traded down and only used one of their third-round picks, they managed to select a very promising defensive back in Houston turnover machine Marcus Jones.

The Patriots are not a team that will follow the path every other team is going down. While New England has some big misses in their recent draft history, Bill Belichick has like engendered enough trust to take some unusual swings with the goal of getting some much-needed depth.

New England has once again zigged while everyone else has zagged, taking gambles on prospects that other franchises might have decided to stay away from. Will this benefit the Patriots in the long run?

Grading New England Patriots Day 2 Picks

Round 2, Pick 50: Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor

Thornton was considered a reach by some, as his concerningly slight frame for someone as tall as he is and lack of a 1,000-yard season under two different coaches in college are worth worrying about. Even with those risks, his traits make it clear and obvious why New England traded up to get him.

Thornton nearly broke the combine 40-yard dash record with his blazing 4.28 time. That speed shows up on tape, as even future pro cornerbacks had difficulty preventing him from getting down the field. His route-running on intermediate routes was more impressive than the numbers might suggest.

Tyquan Thornton could help the New England Patriots immediately.

The Patriots were able to make Mac Jones a Pro Bowler by giving him players that can make plays underneath. The lack of a vertical dimension was bugging Belichick to the point where he may have reached a bit to fill the hole. Thornton is a very high-risk, high-reward player.

Thornton should start the year as the WR4, but it would not be unprecedented if he ends up gradually getting more snaps as the season progresses. Getting Thornton to add weight and teaching him how to beat NFL-caliber press coverage will be key in his development.

Grade: B-