BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 08/03/2015

Thiel: Seahawks’ Lockett already polished gem

Almost never do the Seahawks throw multiple draft choices to get a player, then name him a starter from Day One. They did with returner/receiver Tyler Loclkett. Pay close attention to this guy.

At Kansas State, Tyler Lockett broke his father’s reception records. / Kansas State University

RENTON — Pro football training camps are rich with longshots, misfits, second-chancers and mutts. The Seahawks more than most. The VMAC facility is world headquarters for UDFAs, the undrafted free agents who report directly to the UDFA king, Doug Baldwin, and his prince, Jermaine Kearse.

Good as those stories are, I’m intrigued this camp with someone with a little pedigree, a guy the Seahawks wanted so bad they traded four of their precious draft choices to get — for special teams. In the third round — confounding again the draftniks and pundits who profess to know every draftable player down to his colonoscopy, and every team’s preferences down to the coaches’ double-tall, half-caff, sugar-free, no-foam lattes.

No one saw Tyler Lockett coming to Seattle. Opponents will see him going.

Lockett is so quick and so fast he might be Percy Harvin without the detonator personality. Give him the ball as a receiver, and he might be his hero, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, who led the NFL last season in yards (1,698) and receptions (129). At 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds.

Lockett is 5-10, 182.

“I always thought Antonio was similar to me,” he said Saturday, when asked to offer a comparison.  “This year, I want to elevate my game to . . . me being me. I want to put things in my repertoire that will make me better.”

Hey, he had me at “repertoire.”

For those unfamiliar with the scorch marks he left in the Big 12 Conference, he was the second-team AP All-America all-purpose player. You may have heard of the player picked for the first team — Washington’s Shaq Thompson. Lockett led the nation in punt-return average and was ninth in kickoff-return average. He set K-State career marks for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. All set by his father, Kevin.

Lockett clearly had Pete Carroll at draft day, when the little guy, whose dad played in the NFL, became the 69th pick after the Seahawks off-loaded four draft choices to the Washington Redskins (including the pick they received for Harvin from the New Jets).

”He’s got the knack — he’s got the big play nature to him,” Carroll said then. “His attitude is perfect for wanting to jump in there. I would imagine he catches the first kickoff of the season. He will compete to prove that, but it is hard to imagine anyone can out-do him back there.”

Lockett made the Seahawks bosses do two things they never do — throw draft picks around like nickels, and ordain a starter before the player has pulled on a jersey. He also made Carroll do something he rarely does with rookies early on in camp.

“I talked to him yesterday in my office,” Carroll said Sunday, telling him, “‘just go for it, see how far you can take it.’ (He’s) in the competition for the returns, of course. But he’s fighting for play time as receiver as well.

“We’re not going to restrict him in any way at this point.”

That sounds about like what Carroll told the third-round draft choice in the 2012 camp — Russell Wilson.

“I can’t wait to get upstairs (to watch film) for our first one-on-ones,” Carroll said of the first partial-pads practice when contact was allowed. “This is our first chance to see him in one-on-ones. He’s really quick. His suddenness in and out of breaks is like Doug (Baldwin). That means that we’ve got another guy that can get away from people. Terrifically strong hands, he’s very confident, he’s solid as a football player, good all-around ball player . . . tough guy too.”

His father was a four-year star wide receiver for Kansas State from 1993-96 who played eight NFL seasons for four teams starting with Kansas City, which drafted him in the second round, 47th overall.

Dad did well, but bounced around as a complementary player, never catching more than 34 passes in a season and totaling eight career touchdowns. His son has ambitions to be a primary player.

“My family and I really wanted me to go to a team that wanted me,” he said, “a team that believed in me, a team that wanted me and didn’t want to just get me because I was the next-best on their board. The Seahawks wanted me.”

Desperately. Since the free-agent departure of Golden Tate and the Harvin trade, the Seahawks were getting next to nothing out of the return game. The Seahawks were 30th in kickoff returns in 2014 (21-yard average) and 25th in punt returns (seven-yard average).

He’s impressed enough in his limited moments as a wideout to get Carroll running up stairs, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell plotting routes for him.

“There was so much talk about the special-teams aspect that it kind of took precedence,” he said. “After watching him the first day, it’s like, ‘Oh, this guy’s not just a kick returner. This guy’s the full package.’

“He’s going to be a big factor at wide receiver. He’s going to be able to play in the slot, he makes big plays, he’s got great quickness, great speed, he can make people miss.”

Training camp, especially with the Seahawks, can be compelling because of the discovery of the proverbial diamonds in the rough. And there’s the polished gem that compels stares.

 


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    I’m expecting Lockett to at least be named to the Pro Bowl as a KR. Not predicting, expecting. Maybe even All-Pro. I’m thinking he’ll have the kind of rookie year that Bobby Joe Edmonds did. When you’re that explosive a player on a team prime to win the Super Bowl he’ll get those kind of accolades.

    • art thiel

      The Lockett bandwagon groans under the weight of expectations.

      • jafabian

        Good. Give me a couple seasons and I’ll start comparing him to Neon Deion!

        The opportunity is there and Seahawks special teams will give him plenty of opportunities. We saw with Leon Washington what can happen when you get them. Even Walters had some moments. But get someone with speed and a knack for finding a seam in the defense and Wilson has got to be looking forward to the kind of field position he could be getting with Lockett on the return.

        • Pixdawg13

          Now why would you want to insult Lockett by comparing him to the neon one?

      • not all who wander

        Which worries me a little. It’s setting the kid up for failure if he “merely” has a good season. Now then if Jake can catch on as well we can look forward to more “Waters to Lockett.”

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    If he is Harvin without the headache…..if he does pan out that way we have another brilliant producer for a nice price for 4 years. The Seahawks continue to score in the draft a crucial ingredient to remaining competitive in the coming years.

    • art thiel

      I always look at return TDs as freebies. But 3-4 a year are season changers.

  • Kirkland

    When I listened to him make the sports talk round on draft day, the kid blew me away. Lockett came across as extremely well-spoken, studious of the game, and a very engaging person. If his playing ability is just half as good as his character appears to be, I may do something I’m very wary of … buy a jersey with a player’s name on the back (his).

    • art thiel

      Make sure to get the one with the spelling you prefer.

      • Lucas Foxx

        I’ve already pre-ordered mine. (another K-State fan in Seattle)

        • art thiel

          All these K-State people . . . what happened to our immigration laws? :)

          • Lucas Foxx

            It’s a mass exodus, and Seattle is about as far away as we can get without leaving American Football country. In all seriousness, though, I think Coach Snyder would prefer to run a more traditional game, but his best luck has been with scrambling QBs who end up as Heisman candidates. So keeping track of Russell Wilson should be right up Tyler Lockett’s alley. As you can imagine, Snyder doesn’t get the top recruits, but he instills in the kids he gets the mind set of “always compete and never give up.” We saw that his first year. We only won one game, but we were suddenly IN every game. Those kids started competing for every inch on every down for the full 60. The most recent example was the Alamo Bowl this year. We lost that one too, but WOW that 2nd half comeback kept us on the edge of our seat and made us very proud. Tyler Lockett’s skills may be an aberration, but his attitude and his studious approach to the game are not.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    If he can catch passes better than Golden Tate did in his first year then we are already ahead of the game. For sure he looks like he might be a much needed tonic for a receiving corps that can always use the help.

    • art thiel

      Some tough cuts to be made among WRs.

  • VG

    I am also from K-State and the Locket family has produced wonderful wildcats for us through the years. We are now waiting on the next lockets. The Seahawks have received a very good human being and a football player. Good luck to both this coming season. I expect him to get in the starting rotation sooner than later. He work ethic is already known from his K-State days. I think he will make me buy a nfl jersey with the name Lockett

    • art thiel

      Good to know. The last guy they went to this much trouble for was Percy Harvin. Presumably the Seahawks were a little more certain about this guy.

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    • Wil Henderson

      Would not mind at all if he went the Hester route being a 3rd round rookie . Plenty of time to break the rotation , though I think he will become a starting WR sooner then even I expected. A fresh legged hair on fair rookie was what I wanted for a returner.but his camp has already shown even more !

  • coug73

    I wish the rookie well. I hope he makes the team. I pray he stays healthy.

  • MacPhisto92

    We heard all the same pre season hype about Paul Richardson last year, and his impact couldn’t have been more underwhelming. Hope Lockett actually makes a difference.

    • art thiel

      May have heard it, but I didn’t write it because Richardson had one big gift, speed, and little else. Lockett is a well-rounded bundle of athletic gifts.

    • willyeye

      Dude, You’re seriously going to criticize a rookie WR? With the exception of the occasional 1st round picks, WR’s are notoriously slow at adjusting to the NFL. Does Golden Tate ring a bell? To be fair, Richardson looked pretty good by the end of the season. His numbers weren’t even that bad considering he’s on a run-first team, especially in the last Cards and 49ers games. He even started to get the concept of coming back towards Russ when Russ was running for his life. It’s far too early to give Richardson poor reviews.

      I’m thinking Lockett will be another one of those Seahawk 3rd round picks that could have been a 1st round pick.

  • Wil Henderson

    ACTUAL had PR selected for Hawks 2nd pick between Lockett and Dorsett as the obvious. Circle of life when most the NFL looking for tall physical CBs to counter tall possession WRs is to continue ahead of the path to small shifty WRs . The small shifty swift just happens to fit returners which get more return attempt ( especially with the Hawks defense ) then a Hawks WR gets targets .
    SURPRISE was their first pick , but Pete & John’s first picks feel more problematic then their 2nd and 3rd ones

    • art thiel

      Small shifties will always have a place, especially vs. press coverages when quickness can defeat size in short passing game.

  • jacklaughing

    Not entirely accurate to say he’s like Harvin. Harvin is a gadget player who still struggles to perform the basic duties of a wide receiver in the NFL. To utilize his unique athleticism the Seahawks had to revise their entire offense around him, which contributed to all the offensive problems in the first half of 2014. Lockett is a true wide receiver, and already capable of efficiently doing all the things Harvin could not. Anyone who hasn’t seen his highlight reels should check them out. Lockett has an incredible ceiling right now.

  • Wil Henderson

    Lockett to Harvin in the return game are darty elusive speedsters . Can argue other things as differences BUT the TWO inarguable ones
    1. Less money ( you can afford return only on rookie contract . WR is Bonus )
    2. Potential ( Harvin already hit ceiling , Lockett is a rookie bottom)