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Clayton: Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett one of league’s most under-the-radar WRs

Russell Wilson had a perfect rating when targeting Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Is there any NFL player more under the radar than Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett?

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Probably not. Give some credit to Pro Football Focus for turning the radar on Lockett. Their evaluation is stunning. PFF said he was “criminally underutilized.” That’s understandable; once Paul Richardson signed with the Washington Redskins, Lockett became the No. 2 receiver in the Seahawks’ offense. But with the time Doug Baldwin missed due to injuries, Lockett basically was the No. 1 wide receiver in 2018.

Now that Baldwin is retired, can Lockett evolve into a Pro Bowl receiver, instead of just a returner?

Pro Football Focus thinks he can. Not only did PFF praise Lockett for his accomplishments last year, but the analytics company thought he had one of the best seasons in the past decade.

Using PFF stats, there have been 1,690 times a receiver was targeted 50 or more times since 2006. Lockett’s season was considered record setting. Russell Wilson had a perfect quarterback rating (158.3) throwing to Lockett. As impressive as that is, PFF offers a more impressive number: Lockett’s receiving yards-per-target was 15.28. According to PFF, he’s the only receiver in the past 13 years to have a) caught more than 50 passes, to b) have a perfect quarterback rating with his quarterback and, c) also average more than 15 yards per reception.

Lockett consistently separated from cornerbacks to get into the open in 2018. With his 4.4 speed, he was able to consistently get deep and catch touchdown passes. On most attempts, he was able to run the left side of the field and catch a touchdown pass from Wilson. Overall, he caught 57 passes for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns. His yards per catch was a career high 16.9. He also had 13 rushes for 69 yards on Jet Sweeps.

As long as he can stay healthy, Lockett should have a 1,000-yard season. While he might not be known as well as other receivers, that could put him on the path for Pro Bowl consideration in 2020.

Wilson was impressive throwing in the OTAs and the minicamp, but Lockett might have been the second-most impressive player this spring. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer moved him into all three spots in the three-receiver offense.

He also has youth on his side. He’ll turn 27 in September. In other words, he’s entering his prime. I was looking over Doug Baldwin’s numbers the other day. It took him five years to get his first 1,000-yard season. That happened in 2015. The next year he caught 94 passes for 1,128 yards and became a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the top 100 players in the league.

Lockett is the healthiest he’s been in his career. He’s been to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist. PFF notes that during Lockett’s career, his career yards per target at 10.95 and his QB rating with Russell Wilson is 128.6.

That’s first among the 321 players who has been targeted more than 200 times since PFF started evaluating. If PFF is right, Lockett could have a great season.

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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