When we judge a wide receiver, we almost always judge him by the primary stats of receptions, yards and touchdowns. But relying solely on those stats can cause us to overlook great receivers who don’t get the ball thrown to them a lot, particularly great receivers in offenses that run the ball more. And in the case of one specific receiver, it has caused some to overlook one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.
That receiver is Seattle’s Tyler Lockett, who had a season unlike any other in NFL history.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw 70 passes to Lockett this season and completed 57 of them for 965 yards, with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s a perfect 158.3 passer rating. According to NFL Operations, going back to 2002, no other receiver had ever put up a perfect passer rating while being targeted more than 15 times.
The signature statistic used by analytics site Football Outsiders, DVOA, measures players’ effectiveness on a play-by-play basis. Football Outsiders’ data goes back to 1986, and Lockett had the highest DVOA of any wide receiver Football Outsiders had ever measured.
Lockett averaged 13.79 yards per target. Pro Football Reference has target stats going back to 1992, and Lockett’s average was the highest ever for any receiver who was targeted more than 60 times.
Despite all that, Lockett was not selected to the Pro Bowl. How could Lockett, who had one of the most effective seasons for any wide receiver ever, not even be among the Top 4 wide receivers in the NFC? The answer is that most people only pay attention to catches, yards and touchdowns, and Lockett’s 57 catches for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns doesn’t look great.
But that’s about the Seahawks’ offense, not about Lockett individually. The Seahawks, who ran the ball 534 times and passed 427 times, had the highest run-pass ratio in the NFL this season. So Lockett didn’t have as many opportunities as he would have playing on another team.
For what he was asked to do on his team, however, Lockett was as good as any wide receiver in football.