Is Tyler Lockett the Next Antonio Brown?
It's not everyday that a team can move up 26 draft picks in exchange for a third-rounder, a fourth-rounder, a fifth-rounder, and a sixth-rounder and come away with a steal.
But on Friday, despite the premium the Seahawks paid in order to select Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett with the 69th overall pick, this feat is exactly what Seattle pulled off in the third-round of this year's draft.
All He Does Is Get Open
Lockett isn't one of the bigger wide receivers of the 2015 draft. He's actually far from it. Standing at 5'10" and 186 pounds, Lockett falls into the bottom 10% of this draft class in both height and weight. Contrast this with the first five wideouts taken this year -- Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, and Bredshad Perriman -- who each measured in at least 6'0" and 200 pounds.
And Lockett isn't one of the more heralded receivers of the 2015 draft. Despite leading the Big 12 in receiving yards (1,515) last season, along with winning Alamo Bowl MVP honors, being named a consensus All-American, and leaving Kansas State as the career leader in receptions (249), receiving yards (3,710), and receiving touchdowns (29), Lockett has been overlooked for players with far less impressive resumes.
So why exactly did the Seahawks feel compelled to give up their 95th, 112th, 167th, and 181st picks in exchange for the right to draft the Kansas State wideout?
Because he can do one thing exceptionally well, and that's get open.
And for wide receivers in the NFL, in the end that's the only thing that truly matters.
At Kansas State, this ability to shake off defenders using his precise footwork and agility led to some impressive performances by Lockett on some of the biggest stages and against some of the best competition out there. In the regular season finale against fifth-ranked Baylor, Lockett collected 14 receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown, which he then followed up against UCLA at the Alamo Bowl with a 13-catch, 164-yard, and 2-touchdown performance.
But with his smaller stature, there are concerns regarding whether his skills can translate to the NFL, or if he will be outsized and outmuscled by the larger defenders in the league. In this regard, one encouraging thing to note from last season is that Antonio Brown -- a player with a nearly identical physical and athletic profile to Lockett -- led the league in receiving with 1,698 yards on 129 receptions.
|Name||Pos||Hght||Wght||Arms||Hands||40 yd||Vert||Broad||3Cone||20 ss|
|T. Lockett||WR||5' 10"||182||30"||8⅜"||4.40||35½"||121"||6.89||4.07|
|A. Brown||WR||5' 10"||186||31"||9"||4.56||33½"||105"||6.98||4.18|
While eerily similar in nearly every category, Lockett actually measures in a bit faster than Brown, with his 4.40 40-yard dash time ranking him as a top-performer in this event. And supporting the notion that Lockett is a supremely talented route runner, his agility scores are actually a bit better than Brown's.
This upcoming season, with his talent and skill set in hand, Lockett will follow in his father Kevin and Uncle Aaron's footsteps and show the league why the Seahawks were willing part ways with so much draft capital in order to land the young wideout from Kansas State.
Lockett in Seattle
In part due to the run-heavy offensive scheme run by Pete Carroll, and in part due to the ineffective play of his receivers, Russell Wilson ranked just 15th in the league in passing last season according to our Net Expected Points metrics (read more about Net Expected Points, or NEP, in our glossary).
With the premature retirement of gifted but oft-injured Sidney Rice, the average play of incumbent Doug Baldwin, and the failure of the short-lived Percy Harvin experiment, Seattle needed to find their quarterback some weapons in the passing game.
And with the trade for Jimmy Graham to kick off the offseason, as well as Tyler Lockett now a part of their wide receiver corps, the Seahawks did just that.
With his impeccable and disciplined route-running and impressive body control, Lockett will provide another weapon for Wilson to use in the passing game to move the chains. But Lockett can serve as more than just a possession receiver. His 4.4 speed will allow him to take the top off defenses while Graham works the middle of the field. And while Tyler presents a smaller target, his footwork allows him to be an efficient red-zone target. Indeed, with plays like this and this, it's easy to see how Lockett was able to collect 11 receiving touchdowns in both his junior and senior seasons at Kansas State.
While Lockett still needs to first beat out the veteran receivers on this team for the right to see the field, it's clear that Lockett has the skills to make some large contributions to the Seahawks once given the chance. And once this happens, he'll be ready show Seattle and the rest of the league that he just might be the playmaker to help this team make a third-consecutive run at the Super Bowl in 2015.