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NFL draft results 2022: Why the Patriots selected Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton

The Baylor wideout got the call at No. 50 overall Friday night.

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NCAA Football: West Virginia at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the second round of the 2022 NFL draft found its speed, so did the New England Patriots.

The war room traded up to select Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton at No. 50 overall in a Friday exchange with the Kansas City Chiefs that included the rights to No. 54 and No. 158 overall.

Here’s an initial glance into why New England went wide.

Translating explosive test scores

At the NFL Scouting Combine in March, Thornton ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.28 seconds. That time topped all participating wideouts and ranked behind only a pair of cornerbacks in UTSA’s Tariq Woolen and Baylor teammate Kalon Barnes.

Thornton did so at 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, and while also leaping for a vertical of 36.5 inches to go with a broad jump of 130 inches. Both measurements would place the former Booker T. Washington track standout among the single digits at the position, as well.

With a three-cone drill of 7.25 seconds, Thornton marked a departure from New England’s historical archetype for route-runners. But his explosive test scores followed explosive plays down the field. Thornton averaged 15.7 yards per reception as Bear.

Experienced ‘X’ coming off a 10-touchdown campaign

Thornton appeared in 47 games and made 33 starts during his Baylor career. He earned All-Big 12 honorable mention recognition as a sophomore and became a second-team All-Big 12 pick as a senior.

During which, Thornton led the Bears with 10 touchdowns and had 62 receptions for 948 yards over the course of 14 contests. He finished 10th all-time in the program’s archives with 2,242 receiving yards while his 19 touchdowns tied for eighth.

A true “X” receiver, the East-West Shrine Bowl invite saw 372 of his 392 pass snaps on the outside last fall, according to Pro Football Focus.

Replenishing youth in New England’s veteran receiver room

A year after signing veterans Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, the Patriots added DeVante Parker via trade and tendered restricted slot target Jakobi Meyers at the second-round level.

Now arrives youth in Thornton, who will turn 22 during training camp in August with a chance to bring a different element to the receiver depth chart as a rookie.

Thornton made a “30” visit to Gillette Stadium during the pre-draft process. And despite being projected as Saturday selection, the Patriots instead utilized fifth-round capital to jump four spots and make him a more frequent visitor Friday night.

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots’ selection of WR Tyquan Thornton at No. 50?

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  • 26%
    A
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  • 37%
    B
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  • 21%
    C
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