Tyler Lockett: A Breakout Rookie
Figuring out which NFL Draft pick will provide even minimal return is hard. Picking which players will live up to, or even exceed, expectations is even more difficult. Predicting who will do so in their rookie season is nearly impossible.
Despite these overwhelming odds, by the time the season is over, Seattle Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett will be a household name. In terms of talent, he was known in college for his ability to go deep. It happened at least once a game, usually more frequently.
Overall, Lockett, standing at 5’11”, spent his collegiate career using his agility and speed to shred defense. The receiver made a name for himself being just as explosive with the ball in his hands. He was also extremely versatile, having spent a portion of his time in college returning punts, a skill he has already displayed at the NFL level.
The knocks on Lockett are his small size, though there are dozens of 5’11” receivers who have had successful NFL careers, and his small hands, which can lead to some drops. The latter is a bit concerning considering most rookies have more to prove than veterans. However, Lockett will still be successful due to the team that drafted him. It is safe to say that, both in long and short term, he found a great home in Seattle.
Despite having not yet played in a regular season game, the young receiver has already made a solid NFL highlight reel with two kick returns and a receiving touchdown in his four pre-season games.
Returning punts provides an easy way to showcase his ability with the ball in his hands.
Still, as great as specialists are, it is what Locket will do as a receiver that will really make him a breakout player.
The big newcomer for the Seahawks offense is Jimmy Graham, and believing he isn't the featured target in the passing attack would be foolish, for now.
Beyond Graham, there is certainly some room for speculation about the overall talent of the receiving corp. Seattle’s receivers in the Russell Wilson era could be dubbed as functional but not elite. Doug Baldwin has been pretty consistent but probably isn’t an upper-echelon receiver.
Behind Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse caught one touchdown last season. Arguably, Ricardo Lockette’s most famous play involved going flying backwards as Malcolm Brown came running from the back of the endzone to pick off Wilson and secure a Patriots victory.
In short, the Seahawks lack the talented veterans at receiver to keep Lockett from rising up the ranks.
As of Tuesday, Lockett was behind Kearse on the depth chart.
If Lockett does not begin the year as the top receiver on the depth chart, which seems likely, he will still be featured predominately lining up in the three or four receiver sets.
By using him in the slot, Lockett won’t have a size match against linebackers and safeties who figure to be around 6’0.” Still, his quickness should allow him to create separation on short routes, and his speed will make for an easy match-up win should the Seahawks look to exploit the deep middle of the field.
Additionally, Lockett spent some time lined up on the outside and caught his preseason pass on a streak where he simply burned the receiver. Seattle knows their new receiver has speed and are more than happy to use it.
Lockett has already proven his chops as an electrifying returner, which has gotten him some notoriety. If he can continue to shine as a kick returner and continue to rise up the Seahawks depth chart as a receiver, Tyler Lockett should be a recognizable name by years end.