Versatility, toughness make Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett special

RENTON, Wash. -- What stood out to coach Pete Carroll, when watching film of Russell Wilson's 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett from last Sunday in Baltimore, was the trust.

"The speed is what jumps out, and then Russell’s trust that he would run by the guy," Carroll said. "Because Russell has to throw that ball before he’s by him, so he gave him a shot at it. He’s a good threat down the field, and he’s really, really fast."

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb was giving Lockett a big cushion, and the rookie was running a straight go route down the right sideline. When Lockett was at the Baltimore 33-yard line, Webb was still on top of him. That's when Wilson let the ball go.

By the time Lockett got to the 6, the ball was dropping into his hands. He had separated and actually had to slow down to make the catch.

Wilson and Doug Baldwin have received most of the attention for the breakthrough in the Seahawks' passing game, and rightfully so. But Lockett is quietly coming on as one of the most productive rookie wide receivers in the NFL. He has 41 catches for 540 yards and five touchdowns. No rookie pass-catcher has more scores. Only Oakland's Amari Cooper and Minnesota's Stefon Diggs have more receiving yards.

In the last four games, Lockett has 20 catches for 280 yards and four scores, which ranks first among rookie wideouts across the board.

Lockett has made an impact on special teams as well. He has scored two touchdowns as a returner and is averaging 26.2 yards per kickoff return, sixth in the league.

"There’s some growth there for sure," said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. "We knew when we got him, and we’ve had this conversation before about the punt-return thing. It was really quickly that we saw what kind of player he could be and the quickness that he has, his skill at being able to catch the ball down the field. With all the punts that he’s fielded, he does a great job tracking the ball down the field. As you go through practices, and as you go through starting to throw the ball to him, you start to see that he comes through. That excites the quarterbacks a little bit. They start to see that, they start to get more opportunities. The more opportunities, you continue to grow with it. I do think it’s been a gradual thing, and the confidence has just continued to kind of skyrocket over that time period."

Two things stick out with Lockett: versatility and toughness. Some analysts pegged him as a slot receiver coming out of college, but 27 of Lockett's 41 catches have come when he's been lined up outside. With his quickness and smarts, beating press coverage has not been an issue for the 5-foot-10, 182-pound Lockett.

And in each of the past two games, Lockett has caught a pass down the sideline only to get drilled by a hard-charging safety. On both occasions he made the catch, hopped back up and acted as if nothing had happened.

"In his senior year and his junior year, go all the way back, he’s been in the middle of a lot of hard-nosed football, and I think it just shows up," Carroll said. "He’s a great product of the system, and he’s obviously a really tough kid, too. You can’t return punts and kickoffs like he does and be back there when he’s the size that he is if you don’t have a great makeup about playing physical in this game."

The Seahawks have lost guys like Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham to injuries. That has created opportunities for other players on the roster, and Lockett has taken full advantage. Look for him to continue to play a major role down the stretch and into the playoffs.