Bumpus: 4 Seahawks rookies who’ve earned Week 1 starting jobs

Aug 29, 2022, 12:29 PM

Seahawks Coby Bryant...

Seahawks CB Coby Bryant prepares for a snap against the Chicago Bears at Lumen Field on Aug. 18. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The preseason didn’t go the way the Seahawks wanted in terms of wins and losses as they dropped all three of their practice games, but it was clear to former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus that a handful of Seattle’s nine-man rookie draft class have earned the right to start come Week 1.

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In fact, Bumpus said Monday on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy that he expects several rookies to start when the Seahawks host the Denver Broncos in the season opener.

“Four starting rookies Week 1,” Bumpus told co-host Stacy Rost.

So who made the cut?

“We’re starting at the left tackle position. This guy was gonna start if he even if he had the most horrible preseason in the land, but he didn’t,” Bumpus said. “He had ups and downs, smiles and frowns – that’s Charles Cross. He’s going to be there. No. 9 pick in the draft. You throw him into the fire.”

Cross was tabbed as the Seahawks’ left tackle of the future back in April when Seattle used the first-round pick it acquired from Denver to nab the Mississippi State product. Cross has run with the Seahawks’ first-team offense all offseason, and he started all three preseason games and often played well into the second half.

Next up?

“And then we’re going to the other side (of the offensive line), Abe Lucas,” Bumpus said. “He had a really good preseason pancaking dudes left and right looking like the muscle out there.”

Lucas, an Everett, Wash., native who starred for the Cougs at WSU, was Seattle’s third-round pick and really stood out during the preseason for his play at right tackle.

Bumpus thinks the two young tackles will be the Hawks’ lone rookie starters on offense, which leaves two rookies to start on defense against the Broncos.

“Tariq Woolen will be the starting corner,” Bumpus said.

Woolen was the Seahawks’ fifth-round pick out of UTSA and was seen by many – Bumpus included – as a “project” in his rookie season. Woolen, who is 6 foot 4 and has long arms, ran a blazing 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but he started his college career as a receiver and entered the NFL with barely two years of experience as a defender.

Due to injuries to more veteran players ahead of him on the depth chart, Woolen started throughout the preseason and played a lot on Seattle’s defense.

“We’re watching him and I’m like, this guy seems OK. And his athleticism makes up for a lot,” Bumpus said. “He might not be the quickest with his hips, he might not be able to read offenses the way that a veteran can, but when you are that size and you are that fast and you are that long, you’re gonna put yourself in position to make plays.”

The other expected rookie starter would be the other defensive back Seattle drafted: Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant.

A fourth-round pick, Bryant was the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back in 2021. Bumpus thinks Bryant will be the team’s go-to nickel cornerback to start the 2022 season.

“If they come out the very first play and they’re in nickel, that is going to be Coby Bryant,” Bumpus said. “He started outside, he made the shift to the nickel spot – he’s never played that position before – but to me he’s looked better than Justin Coleman. Artie Burns has been banged up, Marquise Blair has had his ups and downs when it comes to tackling. Coby Bryant has been the most consistent in that nickel.”

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