On Tampa Bay's draft board, he's listed as Aaron Lockett. In Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's mind he's Aaron "Rocket." The Bucs used their third seventh-round selection, pick No. 254 on Lockett, the small, speedy wide receiver and punt returner from Kansas State.
"Aaron Lockett is a guy who I wore on the scouts a little bit," Gruden said. "I called him 'Rocket,' they called him Lockett. He is an extremely fast, quick, punt return man who has enough versatility to contribute as a receiver. But he will come in and compete, obviously, for our punt return job. He's made some very exciting plays at Kansas State."
The Bucs drafted Lockett primarily for his punt return skills, and he led the nation in punt return returns in 2000, returning 22 punts for 501 yards and a 22.8-yard average and three touchdowns. His longest return his junior year was 83 yards. With the departure of so many key K-State special teamers after the 2000 season, Lockett's averaged dipped to 10.8 yards with a longest return of 52 yards.
Lockett opened some eyes at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine by turning in the fastest 40-yard dash time -- a sizzling 4.32. That time was electronically recorded and some scouts clocked him in the high 4.2's.
The Bucs have been keeping tabs on Lockett since his junior season and were prepared to draft him this year after attempts to sign former Kansas State punt returner David Allen, Lockett's predecessor, failed this offseason.
Gruden indicated that Lockett will have a chance to line up at receiver despite being 5-foot-7, 155 pounds. He had his best season as a redshirt freshman in 1998 with 44 receptions for 928 yards (21.1 avg.) and six touchdowns, including a school-record 97-yarder against Northeast Louisiana. He finished that game with six catches for 188 yards and two scores.
Inconsistency at the quarterback position began after the departure of Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Bishop in 1999 and Lockett's numbers dipped. He hauled in 33 catches for 531 yards and three scores in '99 and 36 grabs for 584 yards and two touchdowns in 2000. His senior year was a disappointment, catching only 24 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns, but he did return a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
Lockett will compete against veteran receiver Karl Williams for the punt return position and former Wildcat teammate Frank Murphy and Byron Hanspard for the kickoff return duties in Tampa Bay.
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