Tyquan Thornton ran one of the fastest 40-yard dashes we’ve seen at the NFL Combine in quite some time, so you’d have expected him to have received a ton of buzz prior to the 2022 NFL Draft, but he hasn’t. So you say to yourself all right — he’s a former track star receiving minimal buzz after running a 4.28, so he must be a one-trick pony, right? The minute you turn on the All-22 coaches film, the tape tells a completely different story.
Thornton didn’t strike me at all as a track star playing the receiver position. He displayed the ability to adjust to off-target throws in the air, the short-area burst and quickness to win by creating separation off the line of scrimmage — specifically in the red zone, and most importantly natural hands. Thornton’s toughness at the catch point is to be expected of a traditional X receiver at the NFL level no matter what he weighed in at during the combine, and that’s exactly where I see him lining up as a starter at the pro level.
Age as of Week 1: 21 | Height: 6-2 3/8 | Weight: 181 | 40-time: 4.28
Comparable body-type to: Mike Wallace
We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Thornton from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
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Best Fantasy fits
Los Angeles Chargers
While joining the Chargers may not be the best fit for Thornton’s redraft value, it’s an excellent fit for his long-term value. Thornton would join Justin Herbert, who is emerging as the game’s premier deep passer in a Chargers offense that is vertically oriented and not likely to change anytime soon. They play to Herbert’s strengths within the system, and Thornton has a skill set that fits well with the quarterback.
Green Bay Packers
Thornton could step right into the role left behind by Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and in many ways offer more as both a red zone and intermediate threat — in addition to simply being a faster vertical threat right away. Thornton would serve as a nice complement to Allen Lazard as the team’s other boundary receiver, and Aaron Rodgers would soon find his favorite deep target threat in quite some time.
The Steelers may not seem like a great fit on paper given their quarterback situation, but I think we’re all aware that Mitchell Trubisky is temporary. In fact, it could only be a matter of days now before they look to upgrade that position. In picking the Steelers here, I’m putting a priority on their ability to develop wide receiver prospects with similar traits, builds and skill sets that ultimately translated well within their program. They have a track record for developing receivers, and Thornton would benefit from being in that building.
Thornton is a late-round sleeper for rookie-only Dynasty mock drafts. You’ll most likely be able to snag him in any fourth round of your Superflex drafts, and even in one-quarterback leagues he’ll be around in that same range unless he lands in a specific situation. He’s without a doubt my favorite receiver to end my rookie drafts with and someone I make sure to come away with each draft.
- Fantasy Football Today NFL Draft Predictions: Predict the top 10 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft to win a spot in the 2022 FFT Podcast League! Must include correct spelling of players’ names to win. REMINDER: you are predicting the NFL Draft order (April 28), not a Fantasy draft. (34 kB)
- Straight-line speed is as advertised — just as fast as the 4.28 40-yard dash says he is.
- Long stride length was a runner — chews up ground on vertical routes to gain a step on cornerbacks.
- Plus short-area quickness (fastest 10-yard split since 2011) that helps him early in his routes and specifically as a red-zone receiver.
- Toughness at the catch point — multiple examples of Thornton plucking the ball away from his frame in traffic.
- Natural hands and the ability to adjust to off-target throws — he is not a body catcher.
- Large catch radius that shows up in the intermediate passing game — arm length and wingspan tested off the charts (83rd and 84th percentiles, respectively)
- Explosiveness that shows up in his ability to high-point the football.
- Already has some nuance as a route runner with his footwork and ability to create separation.
- Much better run blocker than given credit for — using his frame to his advantage.
- Tracks the ball well on vertical routes (giving him the complete vertical ball-tracking profile).
- Durability could be a concern at the next level.
- Tiny hands (though they don’t seem to be an issue for him catching the ball) in the 2nd percentile
- Slight frame (weight in the 9th percentile)
Advanced stats to know
- 98th percentile 40-yard dash
- Thornton had the second-most receiving yards (1,881) of any Big 12 receiver since 2019
- Broke out in his age 19.1 sophomore season, gaining 782 yards on just 68 targets, per Scott Barrett
- Fastest 10-yard split (1.41 seconds) since 2011 and a tick slower than Chris Johnson’s elite Combine score
Thornton reminds me a lot of former Steelers and Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace both in his build and play style. Wallace also was billed as a one-trick pony but proved to be more than just a top-five vertical threat in earning a second contract with Miami. Thornton wins in a variety of ways, and I think he’s just scratching the surface as a receiver prospect.