BOSTON (CBS) — When the Patriots selected Cole Strange with the 29th pick and then traded up to take Tyquan Thornton at No. 50, the prevailing thought among the draft experts was that New England overpaid for those players, using high draft picks to add players they could have gotten later in the draft.
According to one report, though, that doesn’t appear to be true.
NFL Network’s Mike Giardi said that both Strange and Thornton were drawing some attention from other teams, with the indication being that neither player would have lasted longer on the board had the Patriots not taken them.
“On Cole Strange, I’ve learned, per source, there was a team in the 40s that had their eyes on Strange. Would they have traded up had he began day 2 still on the board? That part is unclear. Strange definitely was getting picked in round 2 regardless,” Giardi tweeted. “And while we’re at it, on the Tyquan Thornton pick, league source believes there was a team lurking on the Baylor WR and perhaps a fear from the #Patriots that the #Steelers (at 52) were ready to pounce. So they move up 4 spots and get the speed merchant.”
And while we're at it, on the Tyquan Thornton pick, league source believes there was a team lurking on the Baylor WR and perhaps a fear from the #Patriots that the #Steelers (at 52) were ready to pounce. So they move up 4 spots and get the speed merchant.
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) May 3, 2022
Certainly, some analysts had Strange pegged as a second-round pick, so a selection late in the first round wasn’t too far off that projection. But some people did see Strange as a third-rounder, so hearing the selection from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was certainly a bit surprising.
Likewise, after the Patriots traded up to select Thornton, the immediate reaction from those who cover the draft closely indicated that the speedy but small wideout from Baylor would have been available in the fourth or fifth rounds. Giardi’s report indicated that the Patriots at least had an inkling that the Steelers were “ready to pounce.” It’s worth noting that the Steelers and the Colts (at No. 53) did select wide receivers with their picks, after the Patriots moved up from 54 to 50 to take Thornton.
And if the Steelers were interested in Thornton, that may be a good sign for the Patriots, as the Steelers’ track record of drafting wide receivers over the past two decades has been sterling.
Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh was asked about the thought that the Patriots overspent with their top two picks.
“Yeah, I think that’s really easy for people to say. Nobody knows what the teams are going to do behind you. When you come back up you don’t want to miss out on a player. I think it’s very easy,” Groh said. “It’s not all so cut and dry with where you think a guy is going to go, and you’ve got to look at what the rest of the board is telling you. If you value a player high enough, then you want that player to be a part of your team.”