Seahawks rookie Tyler Lockett announced himself to the NFL in the preseason with two return touchdowns, then backed that up in Seattle's season opener with a punt return touchdown. Sixteen weeks later, Lockett set a franchise record for punt return yards in a game with 139. In between those bookend highlights, he was one of the most productive rookies in the league, both as a returner and a receiver, making the Seahawks' decision to trade up in the third round to select Lockett look like one of the best moves of the 2015 draft.
Top cap off a standout season, Lockett was named the first-team All-Pro returner by the Associated Press, making him the only rookie to earn first-team honors. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and linebacker Bobby Wagner earned second-team honors after being first-team selections last season.
"For me, I think I can always do better," said Lockett, who established a franchise rookie record with 1,915 all-purpose yards. "The accolades and stuff, it's not too important to me. Growing up I've always gotten them, so it was just something I always lived with and just ran with it. But I never really think about think about that type of stuff until the end of the season.
"I think I did anything that any rookie would want to be able to do out of college, with the accolades that came with this rookie season, but with it comes a lot of hard work and dedication."
When the Seahawks made what for them was an unusual decision to move up in the draft in order to take Lockett, the idea was that he would first make his mark as a returner, and that they would wait to see how he fit in on offense. And while Lockett certainly did prove his worth on special teams, returning both a punt and kickoff for touchdowns in Seattle's first three games, and earning NFC special teams player of the month twice this season, he also made himself a big part of Seattle's offense, catching 51 passes for 664 yards and 6 touchdowns, making him only the second rookie, along with Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, to have a kick return touchdown, punt return touchdown and at least five receiving touchdowns in one season.
"He has had a fantastic season," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's had a terrific season for us as a receiver, as well as the effect as a returner. He's been such a great competitor to hang in all year long with all those hits that he's taken and all of that. So he's a fantastic kid on our team."
Lockett impressed his teammates not just with his skill and work ethic, but also his ability to adjust to a run-heavy offense in which he was not the go-to offensive weapon. After catching 106 passes as a senior at Kansas State, Lockett had to learn how to make his impact with fewer chances this season.
"I'm extremely impressed with Tyler, with what he's been able to do as a rookie, both offensively and special teams-wise is phenomenal," receiver Doug Baldwin said. "He'll be humble about it and won't say much about it, but the thing about Tyler is that he bought into what our room as receivers, what we mold our guys after. Our motto is no job too great, no job too small. The fact of the matter is he bought into that and he applied that to every facet of his game, both offensively and special teams-wise. His work ethic showed with the results he got this year. Extremely impressed with him, extremely happy for him and excited for him because he's going to have a bright future in the NFL."
This marks the first time since 2011 that the Seahawks haven't had a first-team All-Pro on defense despite the fact that they led the NFL in scoring defense for a fourth straight season, something that has never been done in the Super Bowl era. Sherman had been first-team for three straight seasons, while Wagner earned his first All-Pro honors last year. Earl Thomas, who matched a career-high with five interceptions this year, saw a streak of three straight first-team All-Pro honors come to an end.
Quarterback Russell Wilson, defensive end Michael Bennett, linebacker K.J. Wright, safety Kam Chancellor and Thomas all received All-Pro votes.