Chicago Bears are showing serious interest in this speedster WR
The Chicago Bears have continued their 30 visits where they invite prospects to Halas Hall. On Monday it was reported that Tyquan Thornton, a wide receiver from Baylor was going to be visiting the team.
Who is Tyquan Thornton
Tyquan Thornton was recruited to Baylor back when Matt Rhule was the head coach. He played sparingly as a true freshman but started to break out on the college landscape his sophomore season. An injury, as well as the COVID shortened season, ruined any chance he had of declaring early, but Thornton made a name for himself with his best year in 2021.
Thanks to MockDraftable you can see how Thornton compares to other wide receivers who participated in past NFL combine events.
Tyquan Thornton is tall and thin. He has long arms, but small hands, which come with pros and cons in both areas. Still, the athletic trait that everyone is talking about is his speed. A 4.28 40-yard dash was not quite the record, but he is right there as one of the fastest players to ever participate in the NFL combine.
He followed that up with two great jump scores, a bit better in the broad, which shows a bit more of that initial burst. He did not test at the combine but did test below average in the 3-cone, and shuttle drill, which highlights the change of direction skills.
Where Tyquan Thornton will succeed in the NFL
It is pretty easy to highlight the athletic traits that Tyquan Thornton has and know how he will translate into the NFL. Thornton is going to use his speed to stretch the field. He was explosive in college and had a great ability to separate, and jump up for the football. Any team drafting Thornton will look to immediately allow him to run the deep routes and force defenses to respect his speed.
Questions with the projection for Tyquan Thornton in the NFL
His questions come immediately with his size. His height works to his advantage when leaping for the ball, but he is thin and does not seem to have the frame to put on a lot of muscle. Thornton is tough in the air but often can get knocked off of his route before he is able to excel in the open field. His route tree is a bit limited, and he has to slow down to break over the middle of the field. Often this can allow defensive backs to knock him off of his path mid-route as well. There are questions if he can be more than a one-route player. The smaller hands hurt when teams know that he may just get targeted once or twice a game to make a game-changing, field-flipping play.
NFL Comparison for Tyquan Thornton
When you combine his size, athleticism, and combine playing style the best NFL comparison for Tyquan Thornton is Robby Anderson. It helps that Matt Rhule recruited both of them and is coaching Anderson right now. He likely thought the same when he was recruiting Thornton to Baylor.
Thanks to RAS you can see how they compare below.
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The below-average change of direction is highlighted in both of them. You can imagine that Thornton did not bench press because he would have posted a number similar to Robby Anderson. They have a very specific game and role in the NFL, and while Anderson did hit the potential top outcome for Thornton, that role has value in the right offense.
Should the Chicago Bears draft Tyquan Thornton?
The big thing that Justin Fields needs is speed. He is a deep-ball thrower, and he did not have the downfield weapons to take advantage of that last season. The best player to emerge with Fields was Darnell Mooney, who has elite speed and was able to get open down the field.
Pairing Mooney and Thornton on the outside could free up a lot of underneath spaces for Byron Pringle as well as Cole Kmet. Overall, the fit is pretty good.
While Thornton has elite speed, the questions about his size and hands have still kept his stock on day three. If the Chicago Bears see the elite speed target in the fifth round, it would probably be too good of a fit to pass up. Even if they drafted a wideout in the second round, having him as a fourth wideout would be even better for his development. Keep an eye on this name and his attachment to the Chicago Bears.