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Tyler Lockett has the tools for early fantasy success

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Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett.

I've gotten into squabbles on social media and in real life defending small wide receivers before, and Tyler Lockett might end up being the next guy I have to defend. Standing just 5-foot-10 and weighing a scant 182 pounds, Lockett doesn't fill the mold of a "traditional" wide receiver. However after diving into his tape, Lockett could follow in the footsteps of several small trail-blazers ahead of him and become a successful NFL (and fantasy) wide receiver.

2015 NFL DRAFT

Draft coverage:
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Lockett's NFL.com draft profile

Full "Prospect a Day" list

Strengths


     » Accomplished route-runner
     » Great feet and quickness
     » Can create separation in variety of ways
     » Uses every bit of frame to make catches

Despite not having a massive frame or top-end speed, Lockett consistently created separation on passing plays through precise route-running. He was able to vary his speeds and not tip off his routes beforehand. In conjunction with his quick feet, this allowed Lockett to gain space at the line or at the top of his breaks, which was very impressive.

Lockett also showed a knack for being able to use every inch of his 5-foot-10 frame to make difficult catches. He showed good awareness on the boundaries and was able to pull in some tough jump balls as well. Last but not least, he's also an accomplished special-teamer, having scored six return touchdowns in his career with the Wildcats. That's a trait that could help him see the field even earlier as a rookie.

Weaknesses


     » Small build is a concern
     » Small hands could be an issue
     » Struggles with press coverage
     » Lacks blazing speed

Not surprisingly, the biggest knock against Lockett is his size. There were definitely times where he'd get pushed around at the line of scrimmage in press coverage, or redirected in his routes if bigger corners could get a hand on him. This won't greatly limit his game at the next level, but it is an area in which he'll have to improve.

In the games I watched, I thought Lockett demonstrated pretty good hands, but as Lance Zierlein mentions in his profile of Lockett they can be inconsistent in traffic. It's one thing catching passes from Jake Waters, and another when they're fastballs from an elite NFL arm. Again, this is a minor gripe that Lockett can overcome with a little extra time on the Jugs machine or by just making plays on the field.

Ideal NFL fantasy fits


     » Houston Texans
     » Cincinnati Bengals
     » Kansas City Chiefs

Lockett could be a good pairing with DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, helping carve up the middle of the field. Likewise, Andy Dalton would love to have a target who can get open like Lockett around the line of scrimmage when he can't sling it deep to A.J. Green. Kansas City still needs wide receivers, and Andy Reid/Alex Smith don't have a track record of throwing it deep together. Why not give them a player who can excel on intermediate routes?

Early fantasy draft projection

The more I watched of Lockett, the more I liked him. I've seen comparisons to T.Y. Hilton and Antonio Brown floated around the interwebs, and I think it'd be fair to add Randall Cobb to that mix as well. Right now, I love Lockett in dynasty, and merely just like him in redrafts. Of those three receivers mentioned, only one had a noteworthy rookie season, as it took the others a year to develop the finer points of the position. Still, Lockett will be a name to watch on draft day and in fantasy drafts this fall.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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