According to his Instagram page on Monday, former Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton was on a top-30 visit at the Green Bay Packers’ facility, making him the second known receiver to meet with the team after Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks. The Packers obviously have a need at the position, which president Mark Murphy acknowledged last week by stating, “With four picks in the first two rounds, we have the draft capital to either trade for a veteran receiver or draft a top-quality receiver(s). I’m confident that our wide receiver room will look very different in September than it does now.” Still, if for whatever reason Green Bay is unable to add two receivers early in the draft, Thornton, a speedster, is an interesting option. Here’s what you need to know about the former Baylor Bear.
Thornton was a two-sport star in South Florida as a prep, running track on top of playing football. In the 100 meters, he had a personal record of 10.50 and posted a 21.07 personal record in the 200 meters. He didn’t get the chance to run track in his senior year of high school, as he graduated early.
After decommitting from Florida, he chose to early enroll at Baylor, despite holding offers to programs like Miami, Georgia and Tennessee. While at Baylor, he was a three-year starter and shared the wide receiver room with future draft picks like Denzel Mims and Jalen Hurd. It’s worth noting that he was recruited while Matt Rhule, the now head coach of the Carolina Panthers, was running the team. Keep an eye on them as a landing spot, as no team rostered more players from a single school than the Panthers did Temple Owls last season, Rhule’s previous coaching job.
Despite technically having an extra year of eligibility due to the Covid year, Thornton left for the NFL as a fourth-year senior with career marks of 143 receptions, 2,242 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air. He was primarily used as an outside receiver, with the team going out of their way to keep him as the sole outside receiver when the situation arose.
Tyquan Thronton is going on a visit to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers probably throws this ball better many are saying pic.twitter.com/WCCqb4HIpr— Justis Mosqueda (4 top-59 picks haver) (@JuMosq) April 1, 2022
Speed. Speed. Speed. That’s Thornton’s calling card. At the combine, he ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash that boosted his draft stock to where it is today. According to the consensus draft board, he is ranked 154th in the class overall and is the 19th-ranked receiver in the 2022 draft class.
He’s a smooth athlete who can flip his hips and loses no speed on 45-degree cuts for post and corner routes. Unfortunately, due to him playing almost exclusively as an outside receiver, he was underutilized on crossers and drags, but did flash his high-end speed there when given the opportunity.
Thornton, despite being a fairly slim receiver, is also a surprisingly good blocker. He’s an effort player who will take shots on safeties and cornerbacks when given the chance. Don’t think he’ll motion down to tight end like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have done in the past, but he’ll hold his own blocking on the perimeter. That scrappiness should also translate to special teams play, where Thornton can potentially play as a gunner/vice.
Beyond his athleticism and grit, Thornton also has very long arms (84th percentile) even for his size (just a hair under 6’2.5”.) This helps him track down balls and in the blocking game.
Two big negatives come with Thorton’s measurables. First, he is 181 pounds and the Packers have played 205-pound receivers for 90 percent of their snaps over the last two seasons, making him an odd fit. Second, his 8 1/4” hands are in the second percentile among wide receivers historically, which might be a red flag. He has issues securing catches through traffic, but doesn’t necessarily have “drop issues.”
The other issue with his game is that while his top speed is great, he takes time to get going. He is not a sudden player, either out of the gate or out of tight breaks, which can cause problems. For example: He has the speed to beat man coverage consistently, but often struggles against press man because of his lack of suddenness, which turns tight man reps into fights despite his long speed.
In his college career, Thornton only recorded eight kick returns and never returned a punt.
Tyquan Thornton is a speed receiver who has abnormally long arms and small hands for his 6’3”, 181-pound frame. Despite playing near exclusively as an outside receiver, he has the ability to be a real threat as a slot player who runs crossing routes, on top of posts and corners.
While his speed does not kick in at the line of scrimmage, he is an above-average blocker because of his effort level, which could translate well to perimeter special teams positions where his speed will be a premium. Immediately, he can be a backup receiver who potentially takes a roster spot from Malik Taylor, the last gunner the Packers have left on the roster now that Equanimeous St. Brown and Isaac Yiadom are gone. In the future, he could develop into something like a lighter version of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who the team attempted to re-sign before he left for the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason.
Overall, Thornton should be a high Day 3 selection who could potentially sneak into the end of the third round.