There were a fair amount of New England Patriots fans and critics who questioned the selection of wide receiver Tyquan Thornton last week with some believing the team reached on him by taking him as early as they did in Round 2.
The former Baylor standout saw the Patriots trade up from the #54 slot to #50 to land the speedy receiver, which left many wondering why, while even arguing that he would have been there for them regardless and questioned the decision to give up the assets to move up to grab him.
It sounds like there might have been a good reason. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Packers, Saints and others had Thornton on their radar in Round 2 and there have been other reports that Pittsburgh, who picked at #52, was also potentially set to take him. They instead went with Georgia receiver George Pickens after the Patriots took Thornton off the board two picks earlier.
That’s somewhat significant because anyone who has followed the success the Steelers have had drafting that position over the years knows they’ve done a solid job evaluating quality receivers.
Going back to 2002, here’s the list of guys they’ve selected who have gone on to be productive players:
That’s a pretty good list. Granted, they’ve had their share of misses along the way, but the percentage of guys they’ve hit on has been tremendous.
Watching New England swing and miss as many times as they have at that position, achieving this type of success over the last 20-years may have seen an even more impressive run if they could have just gotten that position figured out.
As a result, anyone wondering about whether or not Thornton’s pick was a good one should feel a little better. If the Steelers did indeed want him, the fact the Patriots were able to jump ahead and get him could end up being one of the better moves by Bill Belichick and the team this offseason.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of the above were taken from a recent daily morning news and notes column.)
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