The New England Patriots knew that they needed to get Mac Jones some wide receivers with a higher ceiling than Nelson Agholor in order to accentuate his development. Through both the trade market and the draft, New England picked up some starters in the form of DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton.
With Parker guaranteed starter reps, one of the biggest training camp battles that fans will lock in on is the mano-a-mano war between Agholor and Thornton. While Agholor has the experience at the professional level, Thornton was taken in the second round due to his immense potential as a deep threat.
Some considered Thronton a reach due to his skinny frame and lack of outstanding production at Baylor, but the speed that made him a combine phenom has helped Bill Belichick fall in love with the former Bear. Thornton likely won’t be sitting on the bench for too long in his rookie season.
The Patriots will need to figure out how to get Thornton the reps he needs while milking as much value as possible out of Agholor’s contract. If push comes to shove and only one of those players can make it onto the field, Agholor needs to be kicked aside in favor of the speedy deep threat.
The New England Patriots need to lean on Tyquan Thronton.
Even though Agholor’s breakout season with the Raiders gave him the appearance of a standout deep threat, he often found it challenging to get behind the defense and give Jones that field-stretching component. Thornton needs work, but we know that his explosion will make it tough for defenses to focus on him.
Agholor has already been proven to be less effective in this offense than Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers. Thornton is a wild card, no doubt, but Belichick trusting Agholor more than Thornton would be such a handicap on this offense that whatever benefits that Parker brings to the table would be nullified.
Part of the reason that players like N’Keal Harry and Aaron Dobson never truly became the sensations everyone expected they would be was a lack of developmental reps on the field. Thornton’s speed and in-air control can be weapons in the pros, but he won’t be able to iron out the kinks while sitting on a cold Foxborough bench watching Agholor run curls.
Thornton will need to be brought along very carefully, but Belichick had to know the risks inherent in a player with his physical makeup before he made him a Top 50 pick. New England would be better off consigning Agholor to the free agent graveyard and seeing what’s in the Thornton mystery box if the goal is making Jones as good as possible.