In the 2011 baseball film Moneyball, general manager Billy Beane (brilliantly portrayed by Brad Pitt) discusses the inability to predict a player's future with his head scout. He says, "You don't have a crystal ball."
The truth is that none of us do. Not the pundits at mega networks like ESPN, and not the masters of the blogosphere here at Musket Fire. Despite the lack of magical crystal orbs however, we still make our predictions about how a player will perform in the upcoming year. The magic talisman I use, is statistics because numbers never lie.
Using deep mathematical formulas, which I will explain to you, I will predict with as much certainty as one can have, what kind of statistical season we can expect from Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. In order to do this, I will reflect on his 2022 season, and factors that may have affected it.
It's worth noting that Matt Patricia did no favors for the rookie, nor the Patriots passing game as a whole. Patricia's inability to craft solid plays led to the Patriots averaging 6.55 yards per pass attempt last year. Josh McDaniel's offense in 2021 averaged 7.31 yards per play. Thornton should be excited that in 2011, incoming offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien averaged 8.31 yards per pass attempt when he called the plays.
I also needed to find a good comp for how a rookie receiver improves from year one to year two and looked no further than recently departed Jakobi Meyers. Despite being an undrafted rookie, and Thornton being a second-round pick, their stats were similar as rookies.
In Meyers's rookie season, he was targeted 41 times and made 26 catches for 359 yards. Thornton was targeted 45 times for 22 catches and 247 yards last year. He also missed 4 games to start the season while nursing an injury, so if we assume a 17-game season, his numbers increase to 59 targets, 29 catches, and 323 yards.
In year two, Meyers's numbers increased to 81 targets (up 198% from the year before), 59 catches (up 227%), and 729 yards (up 203%). Assuming we get identical increases from Thornton in his second season, his stats would be 117 targets, 66 catches, and 655 yards.
Because Bill O'Brien averaged 27% more yards per play than Patricia, we can increase Thornton's 2023 total to 831 yards. Since Meyers didn't score a touchdown until his third season in the league, and Thornton scored two as a rookie, I'll give Thornton 5 touchdowns for the year.
2023 Prediction: 117 Targets, 66 catches, 831 yards, and 5 touchdowns.