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12 Most intriguing Seahawks: No. 11, WR Tyler Lockett

Tyler Lockett may be one of three return men used by the Seahawks on kickoffs in 2018. (AP)

Mike Salk and Brock Huard are counting down the 12 most intriguing Seahawks players every weekday morning at 9:30 a.m. leading up to the first day of training camp on July 26.

12 Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 12, LB Shaquem Griffin

The pair continued the countdown Thursday morning by focusing on their No. 11 pick: wide receiver Tyler Lockett.

At a glance

Lockett, 25, is preparing to enter his fourth year as a pro. He’s also entering the final year of his rookie deal and is one of several veterans the Seahawks could look to extend this season. Lockett has been Seattle’s primary kick returner since 2015, and in that position set the franchise records for longest kick return (105), most kick return yards by a rookie (1,231), most punt return yards in a single game (139) and most all-purpose yards by a rookie (1,915).

Lockett’s 2016 season was cut short when he suffered a broken leg in a December game against the Cardinals. He didn’t miss a game last year in his return back from the injury, but he admitted to reporters during minicamp this spring that he was playing at around 75-80 percent. This season will be Lockett’s best chance to bounce back to full strength: he’s entering a contract year, is more than a year removed from a devastating injury, and offers veteran savvy to a wide receiver group that needs as much experience as it can muster.

Brock’s take: “He’s intriguing to me because, if indeed he played at 75 percent last year and played OK at that level, the Seahawks need him at 100 percent and they need a rock star. I was looking at some numbers yesterday. Do you realize that Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson shared a stat? Both were tied for first in the league at throwing balls into the end zone. Forty-nine times Russell chucked it into the end zone. He is going to give you a chance. And there is going to be ample opportunity, without Paul Richardson and without Jimmy Graham, for Tyler Lockett to explode.

“I don’t know if I have tremendous confidence (today) that this Seahawks team can play small ball the way they used to and just grind people down. Against the Rams, against the Cardinals, against the rest of the NFC teams, I don’t know if they can just do what they used to do from a total DNA standpoint. I know they’re going to commit to the run, but they’re going to need to hit some ‘three-run home runs’ – they’re going to have to make some big plays. And Tyler has shown you, even a year ago in Jacksonville, that he is a Pro-Bowl talent capable of turning a play around.”

Salk’s take: “I think he’s on this list for a few reasons. One, is he going to be a long-term part of your plans here? He’s one of the guys entering the final year of his rookie deal. He’s been good, but also injured. It’s not his fault, but he had that one big injury in 2016. And as he said, it was a miracle almost that he came back last year and played at 75 percent and contributed at all. But is he going to still be the top-end kick returner? Are kick returns going to matter enough for him to be a top-end kick returner moving forward?

“Remember preseason (2016) when teams were like, ‘Yeah, we’re just not going to kick it to him any more because he’s ridiculous?’ Those (thoughts) have dissipated over the last couple years. Whether it be because of injury or the rule changes, or whatever, some of what he brings to the table was taken away. Can he raise his game as a wide receiver in order to make up some of that difference to become a player who you want to commit to longterm? That’s what makes him so intriguing to me. He’s got the best big-play ability in this wide receiving corps. He’s a big play guy; they don’t have that many of those. So he’s got to actually live up to that again this year… and a lot of that weight falls squarely on the shoulders of Tyler Lockett. He is your big threat.”