K.J. Wright: Tariq Woolen has impressed, should start Week 1 for Seahawks

Aug 26, 2022, 9:01 AM

Seahawks Tariq Woolen...

Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen tackles the Bears' Nsimba Webster on the 3-yard-line on Thursday. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks’ nine-man rookie draft class drew rave reviews immediately after the selections were finished, and those players have also reportedly been making good impressions this offseason.

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When looking ahead to the 2022 regular season, it’s easy to see where some of the earlier picks fit in and have a chance to contribute right away.

First-round pick Charles Cross will start right away at left tackle, second-round picks Boye Mafe and Ken Walker III should play a lot at edge rusher and running back, respectfully, while third-round pick Abraham Lucas is making a very strong case to be the Week 1 starter at right tackle.

All four of those players were selected in the first two days of this year’s draft, and there are a few Day 3 picks vying to play a lot as rookies, as well.

Fourth-round cornerback Coby Bryant, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back last year, is coming on strong as a potential starting nickel cornerback as the offseason winds down.

But it’s the other cornerback the Seahawks selected that has legendary Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright so excited.

“When I saw this guy in OTAs, I was like, ‘Who is this guy making these plays, getting these interceptions?’ Tall and fast,” Wright told Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Bump and Stacy on Thursday.

That corner is Tariq Woolen, a fifth-round pick out of UTSA.

Woolen was easily one of the more intriguing players the Seahawks selected as he’s 6-foot-4 with 34-inch arms and ran a ridiculous 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine ahead of the draft.

Woolen also started his college career as a wide receiver, which is also what happened with Richard Sherman at Stanford before the Seahawks drafted him in 2011.

Because Woolen was so raw and new to the position, many thought he may spend the 2022 season as a backup who contributed on special teams as he learned to play cornerback at the highest level. Instead, Woolen has been a regular standout at Seahawks training camp, and he’s played a lot with the first-team defense due to injuries to veteran corners Sidney Jones and Artie Burns. Woolen has also started both preseason games for Seattle and likely will start the preseason finale in Dallas on Friday.

Wright has seen firsthand what Woolen can do on the field.

“Oh my God, he made a phenomenal play in OTAs,” Wright said. “And you see him now, he’s comfortable, his technique looks really good, he has the speed.”

While it looked like Woolen would be a reserve player as the Seahawks rolled with Burns and Jones come Week 1, injuries to those two and Woolen’s play has Wright thinking the rookie could be starting Week 1 against the Denver Broncos and former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

“I fully expect him to start Week 1 at corner. He looks very, very good. So he’s been my favorite since Day 1,” Wright said.

Listen to the conversation at this link or in the player below.

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