Patriots Just Picked the ‘Fastest WR’ in the 2022 NFL Draft

Getty Tyquan Thornton

The New England Patriots needed to add some speed to their receiving corps, and they shot for the moon in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

In what some draft experts considered a reach (the second in as many days) the Patriots tabbed Baylor speedster Tyquan Thornton with the 50th overall pick in the second round.

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How fast is Thornton? After recording blazing fast 40 times, Thornton has been called the “fastest receiver” in the current draft class by CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani with times comparable to former Cincinnati Bengals speedster John Ross.

Tyquan Thornton is a Burner

“There’s plenty of speed to go around in this class, but the title of fastest receiver belongs to Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton,” Dajani wrote. “Thornton ran an unofficial 4.21-second 40-yard dash, which would have beaten John Ross’ record of 4.22 seconds. However, after further review, Thornton was given a 4.28-second official time. While Thornton’s speed is his biggest asset, he can provide a little more than just that. In Thornton’s CBS Sports scouting report, Dan Schneier said sometimes the best thing you can do is hitch your wagon to a sleeper with elite traits. That’s who Thornton is.”

If there was one thing the Patriots’ passing offense was missing in 2021, it was a home run threat with the ability to stretch a defense. On speed alone, Thornton should be able to provide that weapon for the Patriots.

Take a look at some of Thornton’s highlights from his final year at Baylor.

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Thornton is a bit thin at 181 pounds, but his athleticism, timing, and solid hands make him better than average at high-pointing the ball. In his final year at Baylor, Thornton had 62 receptions for 948 yards and 10 TDs. Still, he was seen by many–including’s Lance Zierlein–as a Day 3 pick.

Did the Patriots Reach Again For Thornton?

“There is a lot to like about Thornton’s game, including his instincts, long speed, and ability to create separation on the move,” Zierlein wrote. “He’s a vertical threat with the speed and poise to win deep and has an excellent feel for maintaining spacing when working against zone coverage. He’s skinny and linear, which is a bad combination in defeating strong press-man corners on the next level. The poise and catch radius will work in his favor, but the success rate on contested catches will be lower than teams like, based upon his history and physical traits. Wideouts with his size profile have struggled mightily to succeed in the league, but Thornton’s speed and talent make him worthy of a shot on Day 3.”

The Patriots were called out for reaching with their first-round selection of Cole Strange on Thursday. If neither Thornton nor Strange pan out for the Patriots, it’ll be just the latest draft decisions Belichick receives heavy criticism for in recent years.

If they pop, it’ll add fuel to the Belichick-is-a-genius concept.

Thornton Could Be Nelson Agholor’s Replacement

The Patriots signed Nelson Agholor last offseason in hopes that he would provide the team a downfield threat, but he didn’t produce the performance most hoped to see in 2021.

The 28-year-old only managed 37 receptions for 473 yards and 3 TDs. His longest reception was for 44 yards. New England will be looking for Thornton to make a bigger impact.

Rather quietly, the Patriots addressed their receiver position over the past month, and they may not be done. New England swung a deal with the division-rival Miami Dolphins to acquire DeVante Parker, who could emerge as the team’s No. 1 option in the passing game.

On Friday, they selected Thornton who has the speed to provide Mac Jones with a balanced set of weapons.

The group of Parker, Thornton, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith (not necessarily in that pecking order) is far more dangerous than the group of wideouts and tight ends New England has featured over the past two seasons.

With more picks remaining in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Patriots may add yet another weapon to its suddenly interesting aerial attack.

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