Tyler Lockett's speed is impressive but his decisiveness might have intrigued the Seahawks even more than the 4.40 40-yard dash time Lockett clocked at the NFL Combine.
His God-given speed makes him a talent. The decision-making skills he honed at Kansas State make him a weapon especially in the return game.
"I really learned to be a great decision maker," Lockett said. "When to let it bounce, when to catch it, when to fair-catch it, when to make a move – it's all about making a move and going. That's one of the things I have been working on… I am ready to learn some more."
He's a quick study based on his body of work in college. As a true freshman, Lockett earned first-team All-American honors as a kickoff returner and received votes for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. The recognition kept coming his sophomore year. By the time Lockett finished his junior campaign he was not only receiving votes for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, but winning the award. He won the award again as a senior while leading the nation in punt-return average and ranking ninth in kickoff-return average.
With the 69th pick the Seahawks choose Tyler Lockett from Kansas State.
"I had a lot of success at kick return my first two years and I had a lot of success at punt return my last year," Lockett said. "All I look for is an opportunity to put the offense on the other side of the field – put it in their territory instead of our territory. What I learned at Kansas State makes a huge difference – the momentum can swing real fast in our favor and that's what I love about returning."
The Seahawks were searching for that kind of momentum last season. Bryan Walters took over the bulk of punt return duties and failed to reach the same level of productivity as his predecessor Golden Tate.
Of the 23 punts Tate fielded during three seasons in Seattle, more than 35 percent resulted in gains of 12 yards or more. Only 10 percent of Walters' punt returns went for 12 or more yards.
2014 marked the second straight season the Seahawks did not score a touchdown in the return game during the regular season. Leon Washington was the last Seahawk to score off a kick return in 2012.
Percy Harvin electrified the Super Bowl XLVIII crowd when he scored on the opening kickoff of the second half. He was a threat but played in just six games for Seattle due to injuries and a mid-season trade. He didn't have the same impact as Washington who returned more than 20 percent of the kickoffs he fielded 31 yards or more. Since Washington's departure only five of the 44 kickoffs fielded by a primary returner with an opportunity to return have resulted in a gain of 31 yards or more.
Since the Seahawks are targeting 12 or more yards on punt returns and 31 or more on kick off returns it makes since they would target Lockett. He boasts a career kick off return average of 28.5 yards and his punt return average is over 15 yards per attempt.
"They talked to me a lot," Lockett said of the Seahawks interest. "They told me that I was their number one return guy they were looking at in the draft and they want me to be able to come in and compete – compete at special teams and compete at receiver, and that's what I have been doing my entire life. When I get that opportunity to compete, I am going to do that."
When given a chance to do that at Kansas State, Lockett developed into one of the most prolific receivers and return men in school history. He enters the NFL after setting 17 school records including those for kickoff return attempts and kickoff return yards. All while maintaining his focus on offense and setting career marks for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Lockett is a weapon on offense, a threat as a return man and a rookie to watch for the Seahawks.