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2020 NFL Draft

Playmaking WR Tyler Lockett takes inspiration from Browns' Andrew Hawkins


MOBILE, Alabama -- Tyler Lockett doesn't run away from his measurables. The former Kansas State star wide receiver embraces them because there's no other choice.

Sound familiar?

Two of the Browns' top receivers in 2014 stood tall despite standing at 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-8, respectively. Andrew Hawkins, the shortest player on Cleveland's roster, led the team with 63 receptions and 824 yards, piling up plenty of those as an outside receiver. Taylor Gabriel went from an undrafted, small-school prospect to a key piece of the Browns' passing game.

Lockett, who was measured at 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds at last week's Senior Bowl, knew all about it. When he's away from the field, Lockett will pick up his laptop and watch film of some of the NFL's top receivers who weren't blessed with prototypical size. In between clips of Wes Welker and Antonio Brown, Lockett said he regularly analyzes film of Hawkins, who can "do some stuff a lot of players can't get away with because he's so quick."

Lockett referred to it as "freestyling."

"Being at Kansas State, I was taught to attack leverage, especially when you're running a corner route," Lockett said. "Since he's so quick, he can attack leverage, give you a move inside, you're jumping and then he gets you back outside. Only the quick people can be able to do that.

"He does some stuff in which a coach might say, 'don't do that,' but because he's so quick, he's the exception to be able to get away with it."

As the players whom Lockett researches have shown, thriving as an undersized receiver can be accomplished -- even in the NFL. It's a challenge, no doubt, but it's one Lockett proved he's ready to tackle at last week's Senior Bowl.

Lockett was a standout among a group of receivers that came to the annual college football all-star event with minimal separation in pre-draft rankings. Alabama's Amari Cooper, who is anticipated to be the first receiver selected in the draft, is an underclassman and two of the top-ranked seniors in this year's class -- West Virginia's Kevin White and Louisville's Devante Parker -- pulled out of the Senior Bowl, leaving Lockett and a cast of other players pegged for Day 2 or early Day 3 selections to battle it out one last time in a real practice environment.

As he did so often throughout his Wildcat career, Lockett made sure there were plenty of highlights. None stood out more than what he did to Imoan Claiborne during an end zone drill late in the week, as Lockett faked hard to his right and zigged quickly to his left to make an over-the-shoulders catch with yards of separation between himself and Claiborne.

When a reporter showed the highlight to Lockett on his phone, the soft-spoken wide receiver laughed and asked to watch it a few more times.

"I don't know how it is for other guys, but for me, it's my feet, it's my quickness. It's just faking the guy out," Lockett said. "If I want to make you think I'm going inside, I have to give you something to make you jump. They're looking at your waist, so you got to move your waist. You've got to have a little rhythm with it and fake them out and make them think you're going right and when they're going to try to put their hands on you, you've got to be able to be physical with your hands and then just be able to get open."

Lockett found plenty of openings throughout his career at Kansas State, particularly during the final two years. He piled up 187 receptions, 2,777 yards and 22 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons with many coming on explosive plays. He estimated he faced press coverage 95 percent of the time and all sorts of double teams that forced him to "learn how to get open."

Lockett was also a weapon on punts and kicks, as he piled up six special teams touchdowns during his college career. As a senior, he averaged more than 19 yards on his 21 punt returns.

For those concerned with his height, Lockett had a pitch to prospective employers at the ready.

"I bring a lot to the table. Not just because of my athletic ability and quickness and route running and all that type of stuff on the football field, but I'm a great kid," Lockett said. "You don't have to worry about me getting in trouble or smoking or drinking because I don't do any of that type of stuff, so I'm a kid who is going to be able to go there, make everybody else around me better, be able to be a leader in there and create a type of atmosphere that coaches want to be able to have as a team."

This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.

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