RENTON — How good was Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett in 2018?
Russell Wilson had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on his 70 passing attempts to Lockett last season, the first time on record that that has happened in the NFL for a receiver targeted that many times.
Lockett had 57 receptions for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns, all career highs. His 16.9 yards per catch ranked sixth in the NFL last season and — get this — his 13.8 yards per target were the most by any receiver in the NFL since 2008, according to Pro Football Reference.
It was, as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer put it Tuesday, a “monster year” for Lockett.
Now the Seahawks want more, need more, from Lockett as he formally steps into the No. 1 receiver’s role following the departure of Doug Baldwin. And as he enters his fifth NFL season, Lockett is eager to do more too — and there’s a good chance that will mean more time in the slot in 2019.
“I mean, I’m just ready for whatever,” Lockett said Tuesday afternoon after the Seahawks’ eighth practice of OTAs. “I played on the outside my first four years. I’ve been playing in the slot every now and then when we put Doug on the outside.
“So for me it’s all about just being able to further my game wherever I’m at. Wherever I’m at, it’s all about trying to get open or get other people open. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Lockett split time almost equally between the outside and inside positions last season. He played 496 snaps out wide and 457 in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus, and Schottenheimer said his plan is to continue to move Lockett around.
“The best weapon for us is when they don’t know where Tyler is going to be,” Schottenheimer said. “He can do so many things so well. He’s sees the game instinctively so well that he’s a hard matchup.”
Where Lockett lines up will no doubt depend on the development of the Seahawks’ young receivers, and the three new draft picks in particular — DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings and John Ursua. If Jennings or Ursua prove viable in the slot, Lockett could spend more time on the outside. (Jennings, it should be noted, has yet to practice with the Seahawks as he deals with a lingering hamstring injury.)
Or if Metcalf is as good as the Seahawks believe he can be on the outside, that could push Lockett inside regularly.
As the longest-tenured Seattle receiver, Lockett, 26, is embracing a leadership role with his new teammates. After practice Tuesday, he spent time running extra routes with Wilson, Keenan Reynolds and Metcalf, and appeared to be offering some technical pointers to Metcalf.
Lockett looked up to Baldwin when he first arrived in Seattle in 2015, and he’s now trying to impart similar wisdom on this rookie class.
“The biggest thing that I learned when it comes to Doug is you have to be yourself,” Lockett said. “I have to be able to understand who I am as a leader and what I bring to the team as a leader. The things that he brought, I was able to learn from that and I was able to see that. …
“I have to be able to speak from a willing heart. I have to be able to speak genuinely allowing to meet everybody where they’re at. You can’t really speak to somebody in a place where they can’t understand it. So I have to almost become in the same place that they’re at to be able to drag them, or reel them, to where or what it is that we’re trying to accomplish.”
Metcalf, the second-round pick out of Ole Miss, figures to be a key figure toward that end.
“I like him. I like him a lot,” Lockett said. “Obviously, each and every day he’s getting real comfortable being able to understand the offense. That’s the biggest thing. Whenever you’re coming in as a rookie, is understand the terminology and understanding some of the things that you can do, some things you can’t do. …
“There’s a lot of things that I want to be able to teach him (to) be able to help him further his game, just the fact of being able to understand that he could use his speed as a weapon. So that’s just some of the stuff I was talking to him about is knowing how to set people up with your speed. They already respect your speed. They already respect your strength and your toughness. And so being able to start playing chess games out there is going to allow him to be able to be one of the best receivers.”
In Lockett, the Seahawks already have one of those. Now he wants to take on more — on the outside, in the inside, on kick returns and as a veteran leader.
“I want to do everything,” he said, “everything that I could possibly do, whatever that is.”