Opinions are good. Multiple opinions are better. It helps DLF avoid the “group think” mentality while providing you the insight you need to dominate your leagues. In this installment of “Triple Take,” our Dynasty Scouts writers evaluate another up and coming prospect.
Wide Receiver, Kansas State University
5’10” 182 pounds
3 star recruit
2011: 18 receptions for 246 yards, 13.7 yards per reception, three touchdowns, ten carries for 110 yards
2012: 44 receptions for 687 yards, 15.6 yards per reception, four touchdowns, seven carries for 55 yards
2013: 81 receptions for 1,262 yards, 15.6 yards per reception, 11 touchdowns, two carries for 10 yards
2014: 106 receptions for 1,515 yards, 14.3 yards per reception, 11 touchdowns, three carries for 17 yards
Athleticism, Route Running and RAC Ability
(Caraccio) At the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Tyler Lockett dazzled NFL personnel with a 4.40 second forty-yard dash, one of the best in this class. In addition Lockett recorded excellent times in both the 20-yard (4.07 sec) and 60-yard shuttle run (11.14 sec). On film these physical gifts are on full display as well. At the snap of the football, Lockett displays excellent speed and acceleration, which he uses to attack the cushion of opposing defensive backs. As Lockett enters the vertical stem of his routes, his savvy as a route runner becomes quickly apparent. Utilizing a variety of head and shoulder fakes, as well as stick moves, Lockett is constantly challenging the leverage of defensive backs in order to create separation. In addition, Lockett’s bevy of fakes conceals his intended path from the defensive back; making him difficult to track. At the top of his routes, Lockett is both sudden and explosive in and out of his breaks. Once Lockett comes out of his breaks, he shows a grasp of the finer points of the position as he approaches the catch point. For example on curl routes, Lockett does a good job of working his way back towards the quarterback in order to high point the football. On dig routes, Lockett does a good job of recognizing coverage; adjusting both the trajectory and speed of his routes to maximize the size of the passing window for the quarterback. Lockett is the type of receiver who is capable of running the route tree; in fact Lockett’s strongest weapon lies in his execution of counter routes such as the stop and go.
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As precocious as Lockett may be as a route runner there are a couple of concerns that may limit him at the next level. One concern arises in his execution of deep routes. Whether it is a post, corner or even a go route, Lockett fails to stack-up (shield defenders on his back) when approaching the catch point. While this issue has little impact on most plays (due to the separation Lockett creates earlier in his route), Lockett will be challenged to maintain the “ball-receiver-defender” relationship at the next level. Faster and more agile defenders will challenge Lockett with greater frequency than they did in college. This could be a concern for a receiver whose role it might be to stretch an opposing defense vertically. Another potential issue occurred on a slant route while Lockett was facing tight coverage against a Cover 1 defense. At the snap of the football the defender jammed Lockett at the line of scrimmage (to reroute him towards the defensive help in the middle of the field) and Lockett fell to the ground. Defensive backs at the next level whose stock and trade lie in their ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage may prove a difficult obstacle for the young receiver. Lockett will either learn to adapt or these situations will need to be mitigated by scheme and alignment.
Despite these concerns Lockett is as dangerous as they come once the ball is in his hands. A premier return man at the collegiate level, Lockett can change directions at speed and nullify even the most precise of pursuit angles by a defender. In addition, Lockett runs with good leverage and although he is not powerful, he seems to have a nose for the chains on short yardage situations. He is capable of getting compact and falling forward to get the first when needed. In the open field however, it doesn’t take much to get Lockett to the ground; that is of course assuming you can get your hands on him.
(Leath) Lockett seems to have a cult following these days. Given how many Antonio Brown comparisons are tossed around, you start to think they’re one and the same. Despite eye-rolling from #TeamBigWR, the hype around Lockett is legit. He possesses the rare ability to make corners look as though they’re backpedaling on ice skates; he presses defenders and forces them account for every inch of turf. He’s not going to manhandle anyone off the line of scrimmage; the best way to disrupt his game is by getting rough and tumble within the first five yards.
In space, it is over. Lockett can accelerate with ease and could do a figure eight around defenders without wasting any motion. With enough time and space, he is essentially unstoppable. The big question is if he can adapt to a level that eliminates time and space routinely. If he can grow accustomed to more contact off the line of scrimmage while still maintaining his explosive ability, he will be a nuisance to defenses for years.
(Whalen) The athleticism is in the bloodlines with his father, Kevin, and uncle, Aaron, both were wide receiver at Kansas State. In fact, Tyler broke his father’s records to become the schools all time leading receiver. He is a quick twitch athlete that is a playmaker on the football field. Although, I’m not sure he’s athletic enough to be a difference maker in fantasy football. The NFL combine doesn’t mean everything, but I expected more in the 3 cone and short shuttle from a small receiver. Lockett is a good route runner, but I don’t think he’s great yet. He reacts to the defensive backs more than he should. His favorite move is to hesitate about a yard away from the defender and then use his quickness to make a move to create separation. He does this either by cutting to the middle of the field, pushing vertical and then throttling down for a comeback, or by flat out running by the defender. I would like to see him attack the defensive backs leverage more to make them flip their hips, he would gain a lot more separation that way. Lockett’s biggest weakness in route running is the usage of his hands. Whether it’s because he hasn’t been taught well or he doesn’t have the strength, he has problems with defensive backs getting their hands on him. They can literally push him off of his route and disrupt him enough to not get much separation before the ball arrives. Now, with all of that said, Lockett is still in the top five best route runners in this class, he just has some more work to improve and it’s necessary considering his size and competition at the NFL level. Lockett has decent YAC potential because of his speed and quickness. He will run hard if he sees an opening and can toy with defenders in the open field. However, he needs to be more decisive to maximize this area.
Hands, Ball Skills
(Caraccio) Lockett has a deceptively large catch radius stretching from his shoelaces to well above his head. It is important to note that while Lockett does have smaller hands (8 3/8”) he seemed to catch the ball with ease. In situations with impending contact, Lockett shows good focus in securing the football through contact to the ground. In tightly contested situations with defenders blanketing his every move, Lockett struggles mightily. For example, in the red zone where there is little room for Lockett to create separation, the limitations of his size show up. Defenders are able get inside of Lockett’s frame at the catch point and break up passes. On slant routes against agile defenders that can withstand Lockett’s barrage of fakes, he is less than a sure thing to corral a pass. At the next level these situations will increase in frequency and Lockett’s tactical usage may be hampered.
(Leath) You’re not throwing fades to Lockett, nor are you using him as a jump ball receiver, so I am not concerned that he’s not exactly Mike Evans when it comes to winning individual battles in the air. That’s just not his game. He’s a reliable hands catcher that is comfortable making plays in traffic. He tracks the ball well and has the ability to tie his body in knots to make tough catches. You’re seldom going to be irate over a bad drop from Lockett; he makes the grabs he needs to.
(Whalen) Lockett is inconsistent with his hands on the field. He will extend to meet the football if he doesn’t have pressure from the defender. However, he doesn’t look like the same confident pass catcher when in traffic, the ball is lower, or if he didn’t gain separation from the defender. That’s not to say that he can’t extend in traffic or with a defender on him because I’ve seen that as well. But he’s not nearly as effective or confident and I envision much more of a concern with that at the NFL level because cornerbacks are bigger, faster, and stronger. I haven’t seen many dropped passes when he’s alone however, so that concentration issue is not a concern.
(Caraccio) Many have compared Lockett to Antonio Brown. While there are certainly similarities between Brown and Lockett, the comparison may be a bit premature. In order for Lockett to grow as a young receiver he needs to become better in tightly contested situations. If Lockett is successful this could make him an extremely potent weapon in image of Brown. If Lockett is unsuccessful, he could be limited in his role in an offense. Although as concerning as these issues may be, there is still plenty to get excited about with Lockett. First, he might be the best route runner in this draft class and second, he has the athleticism to be a homerun threat on every play. Scheme will initially play a big role in Lockett’s fantasy value. The spectrum of outcomes for Lockett’s career is huge and for that reason I am less than comfortable spending a premium pick. As of now I would feel comfortable taking Lockett in the late third round of rookie drafts.
(Leath) I don’t buy Lockett as a lead receiver. But we’re far past the days when NFL teams lined up and bludgeoned you with the run game while feeding one receiver. Lockett offers dynamic skills that could thrive if he is not asked to be a target hog. I currently have him as the seventh receiver in this class, and would be comfortable taking him in the second round of rookie drafts. I have him in a large tier of players that exists before the talent falls off a cliff.
(Whalen) Lockett is a low round three to round four pick in rookie drafts. He’s a solid player that I believe will be a better NFL player than a fantasy asset. Many things would need to change about his game and he would have to land with an elite quarterback to become a WR3. I do envision him developing enough to be a spot starter, but I don’t see any big time potential.