Through two weeks, Tyreek Hill has three receiving touchdowns. There are 16 receivers tied with two. Tyler Lockett is one of them.
Lockett often finds himself near the middle of volume WR stats; he has for his entire career.
And yet, Tyler Lockett continually shows up in the biggest moments of Seattle Seahawks games, while virtually never doing anything that harms the team. His second touchdown of Week 2 turned into the first offensive walk-off win in the 2023 season.
And thus, it only took until Week 2 for the “Tyler Lockett is the most underrated” conversation to kick back up.
What is that?
What exactly is it about Tyler Lockett that simultaneously does not land him in the Top ____ WR in the NFL conversation, yet does land him among the best Seahawks receivers of all time, and consistently on top stat charts if you look hard enough?
A couple of thoughts as to how this came to be. I believe Lockett distinctly does not possess attributes that make many athletes popular to the public, but distinctly does possess an attribute that any head coach would die for.
It’s not tangible; it’s not a combine measurable, but Lockett has the elements that contribute to what we call “clutch.”
Let’s back up and grab the negative first: Lockett is not gaudy. He has 1,000 yard seasons sure, but not 1,400 yard seasons. He’s had 8-10 TDs, but never 15. He’s short, doesn’t jump out of the gym, doesn’t give internet-breaking quotes. Style points mean nothing in NFL standings but they mean a great deal to popular opinion of skill positions. Besides toe-taps, Lockett’s style points are very low.
But he’s so often in the right place at the right time. He does not fail in big moments. He does things that “better” receivers struggle to do. He is, in a word, clutch.
The two attributes that won’t show up on a stat sheet, the Lockett possesses as much as or more than anyone in the NFL, are consistency and focus.
Although perhaps their byproducts do show up on a stat sheet. In 2021, Lockett was the only player with over 70 receptions and 0 drops. That’s not abnormal either, last season he had the lowest drop rate of anyone with over 65 receptions.
Against the Lions, Lockett eight receptions, and every one of them was “successful” with four first downs, 2 TD, and two landed only a yard short of the sticks.
The best way I can think to describe it: Lockett doesn’t make as many HIM plays like the Odell Beckham / Justin Jefferson one handed skyrocket grabs, but he always makes the play. Whatever the play is, if Lockett’s responsible, he does it. Consistently, and in whatever moment, big or small.
Pete Carroll shared some thoughts on Lockett early this week which captures this idea perfectly. Carroll said Lockett is “famous” around the organization in that how he practices is exactly what comes out on game day. Carroll said for nearly everybody, there’s at least even minor breakdown, slight differences in what a route should look like vs. what it looks like in the game. That’s not true of Lockett, as Carroll said however deep the cut, whatever the shape, the timing, Lockett hits it every time.
You cannot have that type of precision without both consistency and focus. It’s that type of precision that led him and Russell Wilson to post a perfect 158.3 passer rating when connecting for the entire 2018 season.
It’s hard to pick a favorite play from a guy with 543 career receptions and 56 touchdowns, but for me it’s probably still this one:
For eight years, I don’t think another receiver has embodied the concept of making the play in front of you as well as Tyler Lockett.
That skill won’t win you your fantasy league, which matters in the conversation these days unfortunately. But the simple fact is Lockett’s clutch factor is no small reason how Geno Smith was able to step in and have such success piloting the Seahawks offense.
He’s just different.
And as Carroll said, I hope he plays forever.