The 2022 NFL Draft class is full of talent, especially when it comes to the wide receiver position. This became evident at the NFL combine, as a record eight receivers broke 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, per NFL.com. There’s plenty of speed to go around in this class, but the title of fastest receiver belongs to Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton.
Thornton ran an unofficial 4.21-second 40-yard dash, which would have beaten John Ross‘ record of 4.22 seconds. However, after further review, Thornton was given a 4.28-second official time. While Thornton’s speed is his biggest asset, he can provide a little more than just that. In Thornton’s CBS Sports scouting report, Dan Schneier said sometimes the best thing you can do is hitch your wagon to a sleeper with elite traits. That’s who Thornton is.
This week, Thornton spoke with CBS Sports about how the draft process has gone for him, what he views as his strengths as a wide receiver and what he will bring to an NFL team.
The NFL Draft is just a few days away now. How are you feeling?
Thornton: I feel very good, I feel very confident. I feel like I did a pretty good job these last couple of months just helping myself, you know, building my brand and just being myself. I’ve been on a couple of visits, and I feel like what I did at the East-West Shrine Bowl and what I ran at the combine — and I put a great pro day together, too, as well, just running my routes and showing that I can run different routes, put the speed into the routes and get in and out of my breaks. And being a 6-foot-2 guy, showing that I can bend a little bit and be a little bit more fluid. Just showing off my skill set, I feel like I helped myself improve.
How did the draft process go? Interviewing with teams, going on visits. What was that like?
Thornton: It was all new to me. It was a great experience, I enjoyed it. It was kind of hectic having Zoom calls, catching flights and then you gotta try to balance how you are going to still get your workouts in. Just catching so many flights and everything, that can take a toll on your body. But I mean, overall just going to the different facilities and speaking with different coaches and experiencing more of it. I went to Green Bay, and I ain’t never been in Wisconsin before. Just being there and seeing what that atmosphere is like and seeing the facilities and how historical it is and learning about the team and stuff, and meeting different coaches, it was great.
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You ran the fastest 40 time of any wide receiver at the NFL combine, was that a goal of yours, and how did that moment feel?
Thornton: Yes it was a goal of mine. 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.
What do you believe your strengths are as a wide receiver?
Thornton: I feel like my strengths are obviously my speed, but I love how I can check the ball, I got great hands, I catch the ball pretty well, my route running, too, and just me always having self-awareness. Always looking myself in the mirror, seeing what areas I can get better at. If that’s playing a little bit more physical, the releases … And I’m always just looking to improve in certain areas and turning my strengths into making them even more dominant, and making my weaknesses strengths. I feel like the love that I have for the game and me just wanting to soak up more as a receiver, I just feel like that’s what separates me from others.
Who would you compare yourself to in the NFL, or who do you want to be?
Thornton: I tend to watch a little bit of Davante Adams, just how he is effective with his releases at the beginning of the route, creating separation throughout the routes. 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. 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.
Give me your pitch. Why should an NFL team be drafting Mr. Thornton?
Thornton: Mr. Thornton, man, he’s a guy that’s going to come into work every day and try to better himself, and not just better himself, he’s trying to make the room better and make the team better. Great kid, loves to soak up the game like I said before. My skillset, I feel like I can contribute to the offense and whatever team that decides to pick me up, allow them to win games.
Thornton spoke with CBS Sports in promoting Main Event. He attended the grand opening for the location in Waco, Texas. The 50,000 square foot entertainment center features 22 state-of-the-art bowling lanes, each with unique technology, arcade games, virtual reality experiences, high-flying gravity ropes and billiards.