Patriots ‘Need Quick Ascension’ From Rookie WR

Getty Tyquan Thornton

When the New England Patriots drafted Tyquan Thornton in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, it was clear they had big plans for him. One Patriots writer believes New England will need him to make an impact soon.

Thornton’s speed makes him an instant weapon for any NFL offense. He ran a super-fast 4.28 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and he has seemingly made a strong impression during voluntary and involuntary workouts.

According to Forbes’ Nicholas McGee, the Patriots would benefit from the domino effect that would be initiated if Thornton proves to be a quick study and immediate contributor.

“Agholor’s presence on the roster may prevent Thornton from playing such a significant part in the offense in year one,” McGee wrote. “Yet should Thornton impress in training camp and preseason, then the Patriots could move on from Agholor and save just under $5 million against the cap, per Spotrac.”

Agholor had an opportunity to lock down the role it seems Thornton was drafted to fill. Unfortunately, Agholor didn’t meet expectations after he signed a two-year, $22 million deal with New England last offseason. The Lagos, Nigeria native mustered just 37 receptions for 473 receiving yards and 3 TDs in 2021. That performance has many looking to Thornton to supply the deep threat that was mostly absent from the Patriots’ attack last year.

“A quick ascension for Thornton could have on-field and financial benefits for the Patriots,” Mcgee wrote. “The continued ambiguity around the play-calling situation raises concerns about Jones’ progress in year two, but he will be better equipped to take the next step if Thornton proves the rare Patriots success story at wideout.”

The Patriots haven’t had a ton of luck drafting wide receivers, but the hope is that the curse is broken with Thornton. We won’t know for sure until the regular season is underway, but expect there to be some excitement if Thornton starts to make a splash in training camp and the preseason.

In Other Patriots News: Mac Jones is in Better Shape

We’ve all seen the doughy college images of Mac Jones while he was at Alabama. This past week, a new image of a not-too-doughy Jones surfaced that should have fans excited.

Jones flexed for his girlfriend on social media, and the picture drew several reactions to his newfound physique.  Jones’ girlfriend Courtney Fallon referred to Jones as “jacked” in this image:

We didn’t get a chance to see his midsection so a final determination on Jones’ fitness is still something of a mystery. Still, Patriots fans should be pleased to see Jones making the effort to get into better shape.

Which WRs Will the Patriots Keep on Their Roster?

New England will probably keep six players at wide receiver. Barring a complete flop, which seems highly unlikely, Thornton is a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster. There is almost no chance he doesn’t make the roster.

In addition to Thornton, there is DeVante Parker (who was just acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins), Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, the newly acquired Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and upstart second-year man Tre Nixon. The latter two might wind up being Nelson Agholor’s biggest competition for a roster spot.

At this point, releasing N’Keal Harry’s seems like a foregone conclusion and Agholor would have to be massively successful during training camp for him to push someone to the practice squad. Don’t be surprised if New England’s opening week WRs are Meyers, Bourne, Parker, Nixon and Thornton. On paper–and if healthy–that’s a group that seems like an upgrade from the wide receivers in 2021.

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