Bill Belichick’s latest draft day bet looks set to end embarrassing streak of incompetence

Even if you can’t stand his cold demeanor and penchant for pushing the boundaries of what’s legal, it’s hard to argue that Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history. Yet even his most loyal supporters would readily admit that his storied resume carries a glaring red flag.

For all of his impressive accomplishments, including capturing six Super Bowl titles over an 18-year span, Belichick’s inability to draft and develop receivers stands out as one of the few weak spots on a resume that will not fail to earn him a bust in Canton.

Clearly, the New England Patriots have achieved unprecedented success in two dominant decades despite having a general manager who did his star quarterback a disservice by badly missing several highly selected wide passes.

Maybe that says more about Tom Brady’s ability to maximize the talents of throwers, late-round picks, tight ends and running backs more than anything. Either way, there’s no denying that Belichick missed plenty of opportunities to give the GOAT a young pass catcher.

Luckily for Mac Jones, however, the Patriots finally have a promising prospect who looks set to make a positive impact in Foxboro.

And if Tyquan Thornton continues to build momentum through training camp and the preseason, he’ll not only help New England fans forget about Belichick’s brutally poor draft receiver streak, but will also provide the team’s sophomore quarterback with a unique weapon that can take the offense. on another level.

Tyquan Thornton has a history working against him in New England

Let’s just say it’s hard to give Bill Belichick the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a position. After all, when you look at his draft record, it’s impossible to ignore all the receivers who failed to hold their own with the Patriots.

Of course, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman became key contributors for championship teams. But the first arrived in 2002, and the second joined the organization in 2009 as a seventh round selection. Since then, Belichick has dedicated picks to wide swaths ranging from abject disasters to mostly forgettable ones:

  • Brandon Tate (3rd round, 2009): 24 catches for 432 yards and 3 TDs in 18 games
  • Taylor Price (3rd round, 2010): 3 receptions for 41 yards in 4 games
  • Aaron Dobson (2nd round, 2013): 53 catches for 698 yards and 4 TDs in 24 games
  • Josh Boyce (4th round, 2013): 9 catches for 121 yards in 10 games
  • Malcolm Mitchell (4th round, 2016): 32 catches for 401 yards and 4 TDs in 14 games

Of course, no draft pick has failed as badly as 2019 first-rounder N’Keal Harry. Expected to add a physical presence to New England’s receiving corps, the ex-Arizona State star couldn’t stay healthy or open for three incredibly disappointing seasons.

His failure to become a go-to point guard essentially forced Belichick to splash big in free agency on Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, and that ultimately paved the way for the Patriots to take another wide in the 2022 draft.

When Tyquan Thornton became the 50th player taken in April, it immediately raised eyebrows. Scheduled to go at least a round later, the fact that he edged out George Pickens, Alec Pierce and Skyy Moore understandably made Patriots fans nervous about Belichick’s latest bet on draft day.

Even though the new Thornton boss has a well-documented history of misjudging the position, it could be the dawn of a new era in New England.

The fastest receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft wasted no time making his presence known

So why did the Patriots trade to take a 182-pound receiver that many expected would go in the third or fourth round?

Well, when you’ve been missing a vertical threat for years and have the option of adding a player with 4.28 wheels, it makes perfect sense. Not only did Thornton run the fastest 40-yard sprint at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, but he put his athleticism to good use by scoring 10 touchdowns as a senior at Baylor. Additionally, the 6-foot-3 wide racked up 19 touchdowns during his four-year college career.

Built much differently than Harry, Thornton already looks way ahead of the receiver Belichick personally selected in 2019 despite Patriots scouts arguing for Deebo Samuel or AJ Brown. And even though the regular season remains weeks away, early reports of the second-round pick look promising.

On Monday (his 22nd birthday), Thornton turned heads by burning veteran cornerback Terrance Mitchell on a double move in a one-on-one drill. His productive day caught the attention of editor Evan Lazar.

“Another positive note for the #Patriots offense: I thought it was Tyquan Thornton’s best practice. Smoked Mitchell/Butler in 1s, caught two passes past Jack Jones late in the 11s. I must respect this speed.

New England Patriots’ Tyquan Thornton makes a catch during training camp at Gillette Stadium on August 2, 2022 | Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Apparently Monday’s impressive outing led to more opportunities for the first-year professional.

PFF’s Doug Kyed tweeted Tuesday, “Noted #Patriots rookie WR Tyquan Thornton gets more work with the first-team offense today. The WR starting group was already packed with Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and DeVante Parker getting reps with Mac Jones. The team thinks Thornton has earned more snaps.

If Thornton continues to move in the right direction, there is no doubt that he will contribute as a rookie. Sure, he may not have the size and strength teams are looking for in a No. 1 receiver. And he’ll have to learn the nuances of playing position against NFL corners — not Big 12 defenders. But with Patriots legend Troy Brown coaching him, Thornton has the right mentor to maximize his skills.

Did Bill Belichick put the right pieces around Mac Jones to make the Patriots a viable Super Bowl contender?

It would be unfair to jump to conclusions at this point in the game, but Patriots fans should be excited for what awaits the team’s explosive receiver. At the same time, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean the offense is doomed to be in the top 10 scoring units.

Sure, Thornton’s presence can threaten defenses, but that doesn’t matter if Matt Patricia and Billy Yates don’t know how to make the offensive line click.

Tackles Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn both have major durability issues, first-round rookie Cole Strange faces a huge leap in competition and Michael Onwenu must prove he can competently replace reliable Shaq Mason. If this unit, anchored by reliable center David Andrews, cannot provide consistent protection for Mac Jones, New England will undoubtedly struggle to score points.

Interestingly, it could be Belichick’s decision to hand Patricia and fellow failed head coach Joe Judge to manage the offense that could derail the Patriots this season.

So while he may have finally signed a receiver who can become a long-term constituent, it may not matter if his coaching buddies can’t do their job.

Statistics courtesy of Sports reference

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