Adding speed to the roster has been one of the main talking points surrounding the Patriots this offseason. The team addressed that need in a big way to start Day 2 of the NFL Draft, trading up to take Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton 50th overall.
Thornton ran a 4.28 second 40-yard dash at this year’s NFL Combine. That was the fastest time of any receiver in the class, and a top-15 time in the history of the event regardless of position. His game pairs good size (6-foot-2, 181 pounds), short area quickness, and body control with that straight-line speed.
In order to move up to take Thornton, the Patriots traded the 54th overall pick as well as their fifth-round pick (158th overall). They now have a gap between the fourth and sixth rounds, from picks 127 and 183.
After playing a rotational role as a freshman, Thornton had his first big season as a sophomore in 2019 catching 45 passes for 782 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 17.4 yards per catch. He was limited to just five games in 2020, but came back with a career year last fall. In 2021, he was the focal point of the Bears’ offense recording 62 catches for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns.
This pick is yet another departure from the Patriots traditional draft trends. Thornton is only the fourth wideout taken in the top 50 in the Bill Belichick era, and just the second since 2006 (N’Keal Harry, 1st round 2019). He’s also the first Baylor player drafted by the Patriots since 2006, and third overall under Belichick.
Once officially signed, Thornton will be the 10th wide receiver on the Patriots’ roster. Kendrick Bourne, Jakobie Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and recently-acquired DeVante Parker are expected to be at the top of the depth chart. Agholor and Thornton have similar skill sets, so they could end up competing for playing time once training camp begins.
Even with the trade up, the Patriots are still set to be on the clock two more times Friday night. They’re currently scheduled to pick at 85th and 94th overall – both in the third round.
Patriots Draft Tracker 2022: Day 2 picks, rumors, and more
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