Sure, it’s only May. But there was a star shining as brightly as the brilliant Northwest sun in the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie minicamp.
Tyler Lockett caught passes over the middle. He showed shiftiness in kick returns. He turned heads pretty much everywhere throughout three days of no-pads practices that ended Sunday.
Seattle’s third-round draft choice got coach Pete Carroll’s praise Friday for being “all over the field.”
It was exactly why the Seahawks traded three draft choices to Washington to move up 26 spots to get Lockett.
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“I think the first two days have been phenomenal. I think it’s a lot different than Kansas State, just because of the tempo,” K-State’s all-time receiving leader said, standing just off the fields at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “At Kansas State, we had long practices but we weren’t really as fast as we are here at the Seahawks. I think it took me a day to get used to it and the second day I was able to fly around and stuff like that.
“It’s a lot different than college football. But at the same time, it’s always about competing. It’s fun. And to be able to have people out here who are fighting for a job, that’s all you could really ask for.”
He broke all the receiving records set by his father Kevin at KSU, and his uncle Aaron also played receiver at the K-State.
Kevin Lockett, now 40, played seven NFL seasons for the Chiefs, Redskins, Jaguars and Jets. He had 130 career catches and 39 kick and punt returns in the league. Aaron Lockett is now 36 and, like his brother and nephew, is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was in NFL camps and also played in the Canadian Football League.
What was their advice to Tyler in advance of his first NFL minicamp?
“Just treat it the same; it’s football at the end of the day, regardless,” the younger Lockett said. “Don’t look at it as you have a spot that’s been given to you. Come in and fight for a spot.”
His next words were right out of the Pete Carroll philosophy manual, page one.
“You always want to be able to compete because at the end of the day; if you don’t compete, you lose your spot. You get cut nowadays,” Tyler Lockett said. “It’s not like you lose your spot like it was in college football. That’s the same thing my mom was just saying: ‘Go out there, relax, be comfortable and do what you do. That’s exactly why they picked you; they wanted you to do what you do and that’s what you do best.’ ”
Despite his “always compete” credo, Carroll has all but declared Lockett the Seahawks’ punt and kickoff returner for this season, four months before the first game. Having Lockett to fix perhaps Seattle’s worst areas last season is why they traded up to get him.
But this weekend showed he’ll likely be in the wide-receiver rotation, too — especially while speedy, smaller Paul Richardson recovers early in the coming season following a torn anterior cruciate ligament he got in January’s playoff game against Carolina.
“I always wanted to go to a team that believed in me, a team that wanted me and didn’t want to just get me because I was the next-best on their board,” Lockett said. “Obviously, they said they have plans for me, but I have to live up to that. No spot is given to you.
“So that’s why I try to come in here with the mentality of fight for whatever you can get, always compete and at the end of the day, whatever happens is going to happen.”
As mentioned Friday when Kasen Williams showed up with his old, dominant, physical presence Carroll loves in his wide receivers but has lacked with the Seahawks recently, the former Washington Husky has a chance of returning for the team-wide mandatory minicamp next month.
He agreed to terms last week as an undrafted free agent with Cincinnati, but then failed its physical. Seattle had him in this weekend for a tryout as a non-roster player.
Asked Sunday about Williams, Carroll hinted the former multi-sport star at Skyline High School in Sammamish outside Seattle could be added to the 90-man offseason roster.
“We hope to get him back,” Carroll said.
The 6-foot-1, 219-pound Williams was the 2011 Parade Magazine national high school player of the year.
He seemed destined for superstardom at UW. But he struggled early in then-coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense because of sloppy preparation and route running.
Then in October 2013 he broke his left leg and sustained a Lisfranc bone-displacement injury in his foot leaping to try to catch a pass against California. That cost him much of his effectiveness through his senior season of 2014 — and a chance to get drafted last weekend.
Williams, the son of former Wilson High and UW track and football star Aaron Williams, said Saturday he is “100 percent” healthy now, adding: “I feel like myself again.”
PINKINS TO OLB
A year ago, Carroll was excited about drafting Eric Pinkins from San Diego State in the sixth round — as a cornerback they soon moved strong safety to potentially back up Kam Chancellor.
But before last summer’s training camp he sustained a Lisfranc injury similar to Williams’. After missing his entire rookie season due to that injury, Pinkins was up to 240-plus pounds a few weeks ago; he’s listed at 6-3 and 220 pounds.
That, and perhaps last week’s drafting of strong safety Ryan Murphy in the seventh round out of Oregon State, was partly why Pinkins spent this weekend minicamp as an outside linebacker — his third position in 12 months as a Seahawk.
“He picked up the outside backer stuff pretty well,” Carroll said. “It’s pretty similar to how we play our strong safeties so there was a lot of carryover in their aggressive modes at the line of scrimmage so he was able to do that stuff.
“He’s really fast at the position and all that so we’ll see how it goes. This camp was great for him because he had a chance to get the line of scrimmage going. … Out here, he did well.”