Big expectations for Tyler Lockett

The rookie's quickness and route-running has captured the attention of head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks during the offseason but it is his ability as a returner that earned him recognition as Seattle's "Best Fit" for NFLDraftScout and CBSSports.com.

While the play-calling at the end of Super Bowl XLIX will forever draw critics, what isn't up for debate is the remarkable success head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have enjoyed in Seattle, especially given a receiving corps that most regard as "pedestrian."

In an era in which the passing game has taken over much of the NFL, the Seahawks relied almost exclusively on undrafted wide receivers to qualify for its second consecutive Super Bowl. Seattle's leading receivers in 2014 - Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse - were each UDFAs. So too was Chris Matthews, the 6-foot-5, 218 pounder whose four receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots were his first in the NFL. Ricardo Lockette - the target of Russell Wilson's ill-fated pass that New England defensive back Malcolm Butler intercepted? You guessed it, also an undrafted free agent.

Still smarting from the loss, Schneider addressed Seattle's need for a true No. 1 target with the bold trade with the New Orleans Saints for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham. He and the Seahawks were similarly aggressive on draft day, sending four draft picks (a third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounder) to Washington to nab Tyler Lockett, Kansas State's all-time receiving leader, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award last season and just as importantly the two-time defending Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year.

At just 5-foot-10 and 182 pounds, Lockett isn't imposing and he's unlikely to surpass Kearse or Baldwin as the Seahawks' starting wideouts. He is very quick, however, and is already a polished route-runner, traits that helped him stand out already against Seattle's vaunted Legion of Boom as a complementary threat on drag routes across the middle or occasional deep balls. Opponents playing close to the line of scrimmage to slow down Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks' top-ranked running game may instead find Lockett (or Graham) running free behind them.

While Lockett should help Seattle's passing attack, his greatest contribution as a rookie will be as a returner on special teams - one of the few areas in which the Seahawks struggled a year ago. Baldwin, fellow wideout Bryan Walters and All-Pro defenders Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman were among the athletes Carroll shuffled in at punt returner as the Seahawks struggled to replace the big play ability lost when the Seahawks sent Percy Harvin packing. No one offered Harvin's juice and Seattle averaged just seven yards per punt return in 2014, 25th in the NFL. The Seahawks were even worse returning kickoffs, gaining just 21 yards, which ranked 30th in the league.

Lockett was drafted to immediately boost these numbers and the burst and work ethic he's shown thus far has Carroll and the Seahawks excited.

"It's been really fun to learn about Tyler," Carroll said. "He's got a lot of responsibilities. He's going after this return job, he's inside playing in the slot in the receiver position, and he's been outside.

"We've just thrown everything at him because he seems to be able to handle it. He studies really hard. You don't really know until you get these guys how dedicated they will be, but he's been an exciting addition to the team."

Read more on the Seahawks' rookies with the rest of my story for NFLDraftScout and CBSSports.com

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