Mitchell, whom Thornton toasted on the big play, is projected as the Patriots’ No. 2 outside cornerback. He’s outplayed Malcolm Butler in camp, and rookie Jack Jones looks like he has a ways to go. The hope is that he was going up against a future star No. 1 receiver, which he’s never been equipped to do. Ideally, he’ll absorb the Pats’ coaching and be put in more of a position to succeed.
As far as the Patriots’ receiver hierarchy? Based on reps and designations so far, Thornton still looks like the No. 5 guy, behind (in no particular order) Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and DeVante Parker. But if Thornton continues to make noise in camp, and gains enough trust from head coach Bill Belichick to rotate in regularly in three-receiver sets, there’s a chance he makes a guy like Agholor expendable.
Regardless, it looks, feels, and SMELLS like the Patriots have landed an actual talented wide receiver with the addition of Thornton. Play strength and press-man coverage remain the biggest question marks for him, and that’s likely to be an area where teams can slow him down. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots try to scheme him open off the line as a way of avoiding more physical corners.
May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (51) does a drill at the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
It’s about friggin’ time that the Patriots drafted a dynamic player who could actually produce on the field, at this position. Much of New England certainly got nervous when the Pats took Thornton 50th overall in the 2022 draft, then fellow wideouts George Pickens (Steelers), Alec Pierce (Colts), and Skyy Moore (Chiefs) went picks 52-54.
It remains to be seen how those four guys rank out, but the early returns on Thornton look like the Pats have a good player in their own right.