SEATTLE – One of Tyler Lockett’s favorite current projects with his “Light It Up” Foundation is to help youngsters from his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, learn about the business world by job shadowing.
Wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge, the Seahawks’ second-round draft pick last week, won’t exactly be job shadowing with Lockett when the Seahawks eventually all gather together to prepare for the 2021 season.
But Lockett, the elder statesman of the receiving corps, no doubt has a lot to offer the speed-burning rookie out of Western Michigan in the way of wisdom, perspective and technique. Lockett is as excited as anyone to see what Eskridge can add to a Seahawks offense that soared in the first half of 2020, then plummeted in the second half.
“He’s very explosive,” Lockett said via Zoom on Thursday.
“I think when you watch him play, that’s the very thing that stands out. He’s really good at being able to not only get open, but he’s able to do a lot of great things even after the catch. I think he fits in perfectly with our system. … Based off where we’re going as an offense, I think this is going to be a truly special place for him.”
The Seahawks may have the best one-two receiver combination in the NFL with Lockett and DK Metcalf, both of whom exceeded 1,000 yards last season. Lockett, 28, set a club record with 100 catches and was rewarded after the season with a four-year contract extension worth up to $69.2 million with $37 million guaranteed.
The Seahawks placed a priority on finding a third receiving threat to complement Lockett and Metcalf. Though they didn’t have a first-round pick, they believe they fulfilled that goal in Eskridge, who is just 5-foot-9 but ran 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day after racking up more than 2,000 receiving yards at Western Michigan.
“I think it’s very important,” Lockett said of having a third receiving threat. “The more people you have out there that can stretch the field, that can be able to take the offense to another level, I think it helps take off a lot of pressure that other people might be trying to carry. They don’t necessarily have to, but they feel like they have to based off circumstances.
“So I think the more and more people you have out there, it takes off the pressure you carry. That truly may allow you to play even better, because you know you don’t have to do too much stuff. You just have to do your job.”
One of Lockett’s endeavors these days is being a partner with Microban 24, a manufacturer of cleaning products that is bestowing “Most Valuable Protector” awards to frontline cleaning and sanitization workers in various communities.
Lockett did a Zoom call to inform Wayne Fisher, who works at a Seattle-area Safeway, that he was an “MVP” winner.
“We wanted to highlight him because he’s done an amazing job being able to protect every person at his job, as well as being able to protect customers with overseeing cleaning, overseeing the sanitation,” Lockett said.
Among Fisher’s prizes will be taking in a Seahawks game at Lumen Field. The Seahawks hope their offseason changes in personnel and coaching will propel them beyond the early playoff ousters that have marked their seasons since losing Super Bowl XLIX to New England.
Lockett said he’s excited by the changes, which include a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron.
“Every year you come back excited,” he said. “But I think at some point it has to go beyond excitement. At some point we have to get to the nitty-gritty of what’s stopping us from getting where we want to go.”
He believes the key is to assign the urgency of the playoffs to the entire season, and learn from both the wins and losses.
“That’s the hardest part about the closer and closer you get to the end,” he said. “We think, ‘Oh, it’s playoffs – you lose, you go home.’ Well, yeah, let’s treat that as an everyday mindset. … You have to learn how you survive and what made you survive so you can always progress each game.”
The drama that surrounded quarterback Russell Wilson for much of the offseason has finally waned. Lockett said he couldn’t help but follow along because it dominated the media.
“You can’t turn on the TV without hearing stuff,” he said. “But the thing you learn the more you’re in the league, it (the coverage) goes from one person to the next person.
“Depending on how big that person is as a player, it’s going to go on a lot longer than it might be with other players. But that’s just how the world works. They just try to find something that’s going to sell the best stories.”
One hypothetical storyline that would draw big interest, at least locally, would be a race with the Seahawks’ three blazing receivers: Lockett, Metcalf and Eskridge. Metcalf ran a 4.33 40 at the NFL combine, and Lockett’s 4.4 combine time was on a par with Eskridge’s.
When Seahawks.com reporter John Boyle tweeted after the draft, “The fact that Tyler Lockett might be the slowest receiver on the field for the #Seahawks in three-WR sets is absurd,” Lockett responded, “LOL.”
He elaborated Thursday, “I don’t agree, but everybody has their own thoughts about it. Me personally, I think football and racing are two different speeds. Me playing football and seeing how I run is different than how I’d run if I was going to run track or if I was racing somebody.”
That’s a timely observation, because Metcalf on Sunday will participate in the 100-meter race at USATF (USA Track & Field) Golden Games and Distance Open at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California. There has been speculation he could achieve a qualifying time for the Olympic Trials in the 100.
“Oh, yeah. I’m definitely going to try to watch,” Lockett said. “I support him, man. That’s a big thing he’s doing, and I’m excited for him. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m definitely excited for him to take this opportunity to put himself in a place where maybe a lot of players would never do it. … Definitely as a brother, I’m going to be there to support him.”
Lockett will continue his mostly solitary training at home. The Seahawks were one of several NFL teams to announce, via the NFL Players Association, that they will not attend voluntary in-person workouts this offseason due to continuing concerns about COVID-19.
“I’ll go work out with my dad and my brothers, or sometimes I ask my friends if they want to throw me a football. But for me, I’ve always wanted to motivate myself internally,” he said.
Lockett texted his congratulations to Eskridge but is letting him soak in the excitement of being drafted.
“When he comes up, we’ll have all the time in the world to be able to talk,” he said.
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