How Tyler Lockett's vision could make him special

Tyler Lockett returns a punt 67 yards for a touchdown against the Chargers. Lenny Ignelzi/AP

SAN DIEGO -- As most of the Seattle Seahawks players got showered and changed in the visitors locker room at Qualcomm Stadium Saturday night, Tyler Lockett stood in his full uniform surrounded by a small group of reporters.

He was in mid-sentence when he noticed a new face in the crowd pretending to be media: Doug Baldwin.

Lockett, showing an impressive ability to adjust, quickly steered his response in a direction that would appease his veteran teammate.

"It's all about being a student of the game at the end of the day," Lockett said. "That's why I sit down, try to listen to Doug, everything that he tells me. Even if I don't like it, I've gotta listen because he's a vet, he knows the game. And at the end of the day, it's only helping me."

That was enough to satisfy Baldwin who retreated to his locker.

The spotlight's been on Lockett this preseason, and he's impressed. Against the Chargers, he fielded a punt at the Seahawks' 33 yard line and took it the length of the field for the team's only touchdown of the night.

"We had a middle return," Lockett said. "So a middle return can kind of go anywhere. But we had great blockers out there who made my job a lot easier to be able to see a hole and pick it. And not only did they do terrific in blocking so that the returner can catch it, but they stayed on their blocks which helped us make a big return and make a big play out there on special teams."

After Lockett broke the run to the left, he decided to change direction near the Chargers' 40 yard line, reversing field and scoring in the right corner of the end zone.

What did he see?

"That I can't tell you," Lockett said. "I'm still trying to figure that out. I mean I don't know why I went left and why I didn't go right. I can't tell you that. It's just reacting at the end of the day."

Lockett's vision appears to be what sets him apart. He averaged 19.14 yards per punt return last year at Kansas State, best in the nation. And Lockett ran a 4.40 at the combine. But plenty of burners have entered the NFL and struggled to be weapons in the return game. It's still early, but Lockett doesn't appear to be headed for that group.

"He's got great feel," Pete Carroll said. "He's got all the guts that you need to be a great returner. And he's got obviously, you saw it today, really terrific vision to use the whole field for that return."

Added Lockett: "I'm a believer that you can learn vision. For me, I watch a lot of kickoff returns and kickoffs whenever we're in special teams meetings. And even when it's a dead play, it couldn't go anywhere, I try to make a way for it to work and for it to score a touchdown. So even if I'm in kickoff meeting and I'm watching other teams' kickoff returns, I'm trying to see holes. I'm trying to see why they went that certain way and stuff like that. So I am a true believer that you can learn how to get vision as well."

Last year, the Seahawks got very little from their return game. According to Football Outsiders, they ranked 15th on punt returns and 31st on kickoff returns in 2014.

Lockett could have a role on offense too, but even if he just provides the Seahawks with a boost as a returner as a rookie, GM John Schneider figures to be thrilled with the third-round selection.

"We won't always be able to hit returns like that for touchdowns and stuff," Carroll said. "But it's a great threat that'll help us in many situations."