You can't teach speed, and you can't teach size. So, when you find a prospect with a combination of both -- no matter how raw -- someone in the NFL will take a chance on that athletic combination. Such is the case with Fort Valley State wide receiver/kick returner Ricardo Lockette, the subject of today's 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile.
Lockette is a shade over 6-foot-2, weighs 211 pounds and has been timed as fast as 4.27 in the 40-yard dash. Impressive physical gifts for a wide receiver, unquestionably. Lockette's story is one we have heard before. He originally signed at a big school (Auburn), ended up at an out-of-the-way Division II school (Fort Valley State), worked hard and his natural gifts, unrefined though they are, will get him an NFL opportunity.
Functioning in a Wildcat offense in 2010, Lockette caught just 23 passes for an average of 11.4 yards per catch. He averaged 24 yards on kickoff returns. Scouts tend to agree that his route-running isn't good, that he takes time to get up to speed. Some seem to think his hands are suspect. He is a definite project.
Still, he has that elite size and speed that can't be coached. Lockette also is said to be a hard-working, coachable kid. Someone will give him a chance. No doubt about that.
Scouting reports after the jump.
WR/KR, Fort Valley State
6-foot-2, 211 pounds
Projection: Late rounds
From Sideline Scouting:
Positives: Rare physical gifts, has great size, speed, and leaping ability... High ceiling, can't coach his tools... Great body control, makes some acrobatic grabs... Gets great separation on deep routes... Does a good job at not letting the ball get into his body... Explosive leaping ability, recorded a 39" vertical at his pro day and had a 10'7" broad jump at the combine... Long 33¾" arms... Strong, recorded 22 reps of 225 at his pro day... Has experience returning kickoffs... Has solid potential and would normally be a mid-round prospect based on upside alone, although there are a lot of red flags that will make him fall.
Negatives: Hands are like bricks at times, drops a lot of easy passes... Playing at the division two level can only hurt him... Was third on his team in receptions, one would expect an NFL caliber receiver to dominate his level of competition... Former track star who is more of an athlete than football player at this point, strictly a measurable guy... A straight-line runner, has below-average change-of-direction skills and is not an elusive runner... Poor route runner, looks lazy at times... Played in a Wildcat offense, publicly blamed his poor statistics on the quarterback play at Fort Valley State... A project player, will take a few years to realize his potential... Comes with character concerns, initially signed with Auburn out of high school but did not qualify academically... Failed a drug test for high levels of testosterone following the 2009 NCAA Division II championship track meet... Takes too long for him to get to full speed.
Lockette is big with long arms. Finds soft spots in zone coverage and possesses strong hands and the body control to make grabs away from his frame. Good leaper that high points the ball well. Flashes a bit of a wiggle in the open field and is a strong runner after the catch.
Does not show explosion off the line or out of his breaks. Will not consistently stretch the field at the next level. Extremely raw route runner that is too high in transition and lacks the ability to set up defenders with head fakes. Will not always find the ball in the air.
Lockette is a long way from contributing in the passing game at the next level, but he is a fierce competitor that could contribute on special teams. He has great size, reliable hands and a knack for getting open on underneath routes in zone coverage. Although he has good deep speed, he is a builder who lacks explosion off the line of scrimmage limiting his ability to separate in man. He also runs sloppy routes and does not show good balance out of his breaks. Lockette has a great attitude and potential which makes him a late round option.