There are a lot of labels that can be attached to New England Patriots rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. “Potential” is one of them. “Skinny” is another. Obviously, there is “second-round pick” after the Patriots used the 50th overall selection in this year’s draft on him.
As far as his game and possible future role in the team’s offense are concerned, however, another one is quite fitting: speed.
Thornton was the fastest wide receiver in the draft this year, and teams will have to respect his ability to attack the deep parts of the field. Of course, speed alone does not make a wide receiver — just ask ex-Patriots Chad Jackson and Bethel Johnson — but the Baylor product has an intriguing skillset from that perspective.
The Patriots recognized this when they drafted Thornton. And the folks at EA Sports did so when they gave the rookie one of the best speed ratings in this year’s Madden NFL game.
That’s right, we have reached the Madden ratings time of the offseason.
The wide receivers’ and tight ends’ numbers were released on Monday, and New England’s — at least in part — look as follows (please click here for full ratings).
There are several points of discussion, including the fact that N’Keal Harry is still listed as a Patriot after his trade to Chicago. Right now, however, we are focusing on Thornton, the fastest player of the bunch.
At 95, he is tied for the ninth best speed rating among wide receivers and second among all rookies at the position behind only Detroit Lions first-rounder Jameson Williams (98). Madden being high on Thornton’s speed as well as his acceleration (91) does not come as a surprise.
After all, he left the board early on Day 2 of the draft in large part due to his rare abilities as a runner — abilities he showcased at the NFL Scouting Combine in February when he ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash:
The @Patriots just grabbed the fastest WR in the Draft.@BUFootball's Tyquan Thornton, who ran a 4.28 40. #NFLDraft @Humble_Ty19pic.twitter.com/WvR8Fg25Yk— NFL (@NFL) April 30, 2022
As you may have heard, Thornton’s 40 time allowed him to lead his position group in that category. It also is one of the fastest ever posted by a wideout at the Combine: out of 1,393 wide receiver prospects listed by NFL Combine Results to have participated in the drill since 1987, Thornton’s 4.28-second attempt is tied for seventh-best.
Running fast at the Combine is one thing; being fast in an actual game is another, though. Luckily for the Patriots, Thornton showed repeatedly during his college career and also at the East-West Shrine Bowl that he can absolutely fly down the field in a competitive setting.
Whether or not that is indicative of any success at the next level and against NFL-caliber defensive backs remains to be seen — there are questions about his frame and mediocre play strength — but New England’s decision makers obviously feel pretty confident in Thornton’s ability to translate his college speed to the pro level. Based on the Madden ratings it appears that they are not alone.