The reputation of not being able to draft great wide receivers continues to follow Bill Belichick into the 2023 season. This time, it's not about those drafted earlier this year but about Tyquan Thornton due to his latest performance against the Chargers.
Since he was selected in the 2022 draft, Thornton has had blips of standout play to get excited about. The problem, though, has been his constant run-ins with the injury bug. That also plagued him this season, forcing him to have a late start, which doesn't bode well even more when the offense is an utter disaster.
But because of the long list of injuries that have piled up this year, mainly to receivers, more opportunities to get involved have opened up for Thornton; he just hasn't been able to take advantage of them and produce accordingly.
It has gotten to the point that some in Patriots Nation have started comparing the receiver to the questionable first-round selection of N'Keal Harry, who was quickly labeled a bust after his less-than-exciting rookie season. Thornton's struggles have prompted a comparison of the two players during their first two seasons, which yielded surprising results.
Yards per reception
Despite the three-game difference, Harry was far more useful to the Patriots' offense in his first two seasons than Thornton has been thus far. He played with two different quarterbacks in that time, Tom Brady and Cam Newton, but could never fully immerse himself within the offense and prove to be a reliable pass catcher.
It's what ultimately led to his release before the start of the 2022 season, leaving New England with the label of a bust draft pick. And it appears that Thornton may be on that same path now, even if he was taken in a later round.
But is it fair to already say that Thornton is a bust when he joined a Patriots offense overseen by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge? Or, making matters worse, an offense in 2023 that can't even get within field goal range to score any points?
It's apparent that he isn't or at least hasn't become the player Bill Belichick assumed he would be by this point since he traded up in the second round to take him. But has he really been given a proper opportunity to develop and thrive?
That's a question that can be asked about several members of the current roster, and unfortunately, we'll never get the answer to that. One thing is clear, though: Belichick isn't great at drafting receivers overall, but especially ones that will help the team immediately, and then when he does find a diamond in the rough, like undrafted Jakobi Meyers, he won't re-sign them.
It will be one of the most significant parts of the roster that must be addressed this offseason, whether via free agency, trade, or the draft. Something has to give because the offense will never be successful if Belichick continues to stick to his way of evaluating and signing receivers.