4 things to know about new Patriots receiver Tyquan Thornton, who has played a little QB in the past

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Patriots

The Miami native made an impact instantly in Waco.

Tyquan Thornton caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl to cap Baylor’s win over Mississippi.

Judging by Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s November assessment of wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, whom the Patriots traded up to acquire in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday, the speedy receiver has the kind of work ethic that plays well in New England.

“I think he’s matured,” Aranda told the Waco Tribune. “Ty has been, from the very beginning, blessed with great length and speed and athleticism. I think where Ty has really grown is his practice habits, his mindset, his attitude towards work. I think those things have really taken off, and I think there were some probably hard lessons in all that.”

Many projections pegged Thornton as a third- or fourth-rounder, but for the second straight night, the Patriots chose a player ahead of expectations. Here are a few things to know about Thornton (6 feet 2 inches, 181 pounds).

He’s really fast

Thornton clocked a 4.28 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and he told CBS Sports being the fastest receiver there was a goal.

“We knew going into the combine that I was going to run 4.2, but I was aiming for a low 4.2. The moment, like when it happened, I was filled with a lot of emotions. I felt proud because of all the work that we put into it going into that week, and just seeing it all pay off in that 40. I was definitely proud of myself,” he said.

He initially thought he broke the Combine record for the 40, but a time adjustment later left him just six-hundredths off the 4.22 mark set by John Ross in 2017.

He contributed immediately at Baylor

Thornton was on the field right from the start of his four-year career at Baylor, appearing in 13 games as a freshman and catching 20 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns. He played in 14 games in both 2019 and 2021 and had 45 or more receptions in each, but had only 16 catches in the six games he played in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

As a senior in 2021, Thornton led Baylor with 62 receptions and 10 touchdowns and was third in the Big 12 in receiving yards with 948. Baylor went 12-2 and defeated Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl, a 21-7 victory capped by Thornton’s 2-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, his only catch of the game.

Thornton had a season-high 187 yards on eight receptions vs. West Virginia, one of three 100-yard receiving games as a senior. He one other 100-yard game, as a sophomore vs. Iowa State.

He’s from Miami, and played a little quarterback too

Thornton played football and ran track at Booker T. Washington High in Miami, and chose Baylor over Florida, to which he originally committed, as well as Georgia, Miami, LSU, and Tennessee.

He also played some quarterback in high school, and even had those skills employed in a Baylor victory over Texas last fall when he passed for a six-yard TD after receiving a pitch. Hmmm, could the Patriots have a trick play up their sleeve next season?

Thornton was also a track star and posted a personal-best 10.5 in the 100 meters.

A lofty pro comparison

Thornton told CBS Sports he styles his game after Raiders receiver Davante Adams, who spent the 2014 to 2021 seasons with the Packers and was a five-time Pro Bowler.

“I just love how he crafts his routes and he makes it a whole lot easier for the quarterback. He’s wide open the majority of the time creating all that separation from the DBs.” Thornton said. “I feel like I try to model my game after him, while adding a little bit of more speed to it, and using that speed fluctuation, going from slow to fast, to fast to slow, and being able to create separation. Because I mean as a receiver, that’s what you gotta do to get open.”

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