Seahawks Insider Blog

Tyler Lockett overcomes fear to reach brink of Seahawks superstardom

Tyler Lockett’s maturity, poise, speed -- and mastery of previous self-doubt -- make him a prime candidate to become a Seahawks’ breakout star in 2016.
Tyler Lockett’s maturity, poise, speed -- and mastery of previous self-doubt -- make him a prime candidate to become a Seahawks’ breakout star in 2016. toverman@theolympian.com

Russell Wilson is such a megastar he just got married to a stylish singer in an English castle.

Richard Sherman, like Wilson, has attended events as a guest -- and a joke subject -- of President Barack Obama at The White House.

So who’s the Seahawk on the brink of becoming the next superstar?

Tyler Lockett.

“I don't think there is any WR in the league with Tyler’s combination of speed and quickness. He is a highlight reel waiting to happen,” Doug Baldwin wrote in one of his seven online tributes to fellow Seahawks wide receivers last month. “Tyler can do it all. … His skill set is rare and he has a work ethic to match it. A selfless teammate with the gift of innocence.”

All signs are Seattle’s third-round draft choice in 2015 knocked for supposedly being too small is about to become large in the NFL.

Why is Lockett poised to break out in 2016 entering the Seahawks’ first practice of training camp Saturday in Renton? Because of his speed, his professionalism and his poise -- and how much Wilson and Seattle’s offense seem ready to feature him this coming season.

But before Seattle’s 5-foot-10 Pro Bowl selection as a rookie last year proved his critics wrong, before he played like a veteran and spoke like a sage, the 23-year old had to overcome his biggest doubter.

Himself.

Lockett talked last month after the Seahawks’ final minicamp practice about what inspired that video, one of the many performance-mindset videos he’s narrated and posted on his Twitter account since entering the NFL last year.

“For me, there are a lot of people who…forget about their ability they have and just go out there and it’s like they second-guess everything," Lockett said just off the field at team headquarters in Renton following his team’s final practice of the offseason.

"It’s like they are nervous about being able to catch the ball, being able to catch punts, or what have you. You come to find out that a lot of those things you fear never happen. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to overcome fear. That’s one of the biggest things we have to overcome in life. But imagine what your life would look like when you finally overcame fear.

"If fear can’t stop you," Lockett said, chuckling, "then I don’t know what can."

No wonder his college coach, Kansas State’s legendary Bill Snyder, said before Tyler’s last season at K-State in 2014 Lockett is "a self-made man."

That was while Lockett was breaking his father Kevin’s receiving records at K-State. His uncle Aaron also played receiver there.

Kevin Lockett, now 41, played seven NFL seasons for the Chiefs, Redskins, Jaguars and Jets. Aaron Lockett, 37, was in NFL camps and also played in the Canadian league.

His family knows Tyler for having Kevin’s deep football intellect and understanding of nuances coupled with Aaron’s athletic ability.

It’s that combination – coupled with Tyler conquering his own fears – that propelled him to set 17 Kansas State career records in receiving and returns. He broke his dad’s K-State marks for career receptions and touchdown catches. He was the Wildcats’ first four-year All-American. He was also a national finalist for the Campbell Trophy, known as college football’s academic Heisman.

The Seahawks were so enamored they traded four draft choices to Washington in May 2015 so they could get one back plus move up 26 spots in the third round to pick Lockett.

It’s the only time in general manager John Schneider’s six years leading the Seahawks he has traded four picks for anything.

Lockett was Seattle’s kick and punt returner from his first NFL practice through making the Pro Bowl as a special-teams star last season. He scored two touchdowns in his first three NFL games on returns. He set a franchise with 139 yards on punt returns in the final regular-season game at Arizona Jan. 3.

Yet it was what Lockett did as a receiver that has the Seahawks considering using him all over the offense – outside, inside, in motion, perhaps even out of the backfield – in 2016.

Lockett’s family football heritage created a far more polished, professional route runner than the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson thought they were getting last preseason. Wilson spent much of 2015 trying to connect with Lockett’s deep speed to give Seattle’s offense the down-field streak it’s lacked while even-faster Paul Richardson has been injured the last two years. Lockett ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the NFL’s pre-draft combine and reportedly once ran it in 4.21 seconds.

"I’m at my best when I don’t allow the defender to touch me," Lockett says.

Wilson trying to connect his throws with that speed remains a work in progress. Last month in the Seahawks’ minicamp Lockett raced past Sherman, the three-time All-Pro cornerback, for a long catch from Wilson down the sideline. It was a sign of how much more committed Seattle may become to that connection this season -- if the pass protection from its in-flux offensive line allows, of course.

"With Russell, we’ve been trying to work on ‘go’ balls ever since last year," Lockett said. "We are going to get it.

"We tried it a lot during OTAs. We are going to work on it even more. The biggest thing is, I’ve been going against Richard in about 95 percent of (practices). He’s just made be a better player."

Beating Richard Sherman on routes will do wonders for overcoming fear. So will producing online videos meant to inspire young players.

"So it’s time for me to let this fear go," he says to end last month’s video.

"Because where I am trying to go, fear can’t come."

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