When the Seahawks drafted Tyler Lockett in the third round of last year's NFL draft, the thought was he'd be able to come into the league, contribute immediately as a returner and eventually find a role on offense.
Four months later, the game plan has changed.
"He’s kind of just a regular part of the offense now," coach Pete Carroll said. "I really think he’s a receiver that’s returning kicks. We thought of him probably, 'We’ll figure that other part out. Let’s get him to be the returner,' We went about it that way, and he took it over and showed us that we need to think the other way."
In Week 1, Lockett (5-foot-10, 182 pounds) played 70 percent of the offensive snaps. While some pegged him as a slot receiver coming out of Kansas State, the Seahawks felt differently. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Lockett lined up out wide 72.7 percent of the time against the Rams. He was in the slot 25.5 percent of the time and lined up in the backfield once.
The receiving numbers were far from eye-popping: four catches for 34 yards. But the number of snaps Lockett played and where he lined up suggest that the coaches have real confidence in him.
That's why Lockett is a player to watch tonight against the Packers. The game plan will likely focus on a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch, given what Bears running back Matt Forte did to the Packers' offense in Week 1. But if the ground game gets going, the Seahawks will take shots downfield off play-action, something they were not able to do in Week 1. With 4.40 speed, Lockett is the offense's best deep threat, and there's a good chance he'll get a couple of opportunities in this one to hit on big plays.
The Seahawks' best personnel grouping in Week 1 was Lynch, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Lockett and Jimmy Graham. Wilson was 18-for-20 for 194 yards with those five, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Given Lockett's speed and Graham's ability to work the middle of the field, it makes sense to get them on the field at the same time.
Lockett is an attractive fantasy option in leagues that count return yards. But even in ones that don't, given his big-play ability and upside, he's not a bad flex option against Green Bay.