FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots made a move to secure another weapon for second-year quarterback Mac Jones and addressed a hole in their secondary, trading up to select Baylor receiver Tyquan Thornton and adding Houston cornerback Marcus Jones on Day 2 the NFL draft on Friday night.
New England traded its second-round pick (54th overall) and fifth-round pick (158th overall) to Kansas City in exchange for the 50th pick and used it on the 6-foot-2, 181-pound Thornton. Massachusetts native Ben Lepper, a Make-A-Wish child who has overcome leukemia, announced the pick alongside Patriots defensive tackle Lawrence Guy.
It marked New England’s second straight offensive pick after taking offensive lineman Cole Strange in the first round on Thursday. The Patriots then turned to defense, grabbing the versatile Jones with the 85th overall pick in the third round.
Thornton said he feels like his pedigree at Baylor fits right in with the culture of the Patriots, whom he visited during the draft process.
“I’m coming from a program like Baylor University where we stay true to the process. The process is all we know,” he said. “You gotta know your job, you gotta do your job at a high level. I feel like that’s something that I did the four years I was at Baylor. I’m ready to get there and pound the rock.”
Thornton was a second-team All-Big 12 pick as a senior in 2021 and was the Bears’ leading receiver, catching 62 passes for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 starts.
That kind of production is needed in a Patriots receiving corps that had just one receiver (Kendrick Bourne) who caught at least five TDs and only two (Bourne and Jakobi Meyers) who produced at least 500 yards receiving in 2021.
In addition to tallying five INTs last season for the Cougars, Jones also had four special team touchdowns, returning two kickoffs and two punts for scores. Though just 5-foot-8 and 174 pounds, he has lots of experience as a slot defender and played in a lot of nickel situations in college.
Thornton was one of the fastest receivers to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, clocking in at 4.28 seconds. He said he played both in the slot and the outside at Baylor and feels comfortable being utilized in different ways.
Asked who he modeled his game after, he pointed to Raiders receiver Davante Adams.
“I love how he creates separation at the top of the route, and line of scrimmage as well,” Thornton said. “I’ve tried to mimic that with my releases and route running, while adding speed to it.”