BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Rookie CB Tariq Woolen proving Seahawks struck 5th-round gold again

Oct 16, 2022, 5:05 PM
Seahawks Tariq Woolen...
Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen celebrates an interception against Arizona at Lumen Field on Oct. 16, 2022. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
(Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

The Seahawks may have struck fifth-round gold yet again at the cornerback position.

Seahawks Instant Reaction: Seattle Sports on 19-9 win over Arizona

Way back in 2011, it was Stanford’s Richard Sherman who came to the Seahawks in the fifth round and wound up a perennial All-Pro who built a résumé that should get him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a few years.

This year, it’s UTSA product Tariq Woolen who’s turning heads, including Sherman’s.

It’s easy to see why the Seahawks selected Woolen in the 2022 NFL Draft. He’s 6 foot 4 and has nearly 34-inch arms. And oh, by the way, he ran a ridiculous 4.26-second 40-yard dash at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

The measurables have quickly translated to on-field success, too, with the rookie being all around the ball this season. That was the case Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Late in the fourth quarter, Woolen recorded an interception on a deep pass from Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray. That was not only Woolen’s fourth interception in just six games, but his fourth game in a row with an interception.

And that wasn’t Woolen’s only takeaway as he also recovered a fumble in the game.

That brings Woolen’s interception total to four, which is currently tied for the NFL lead with Pro Bowl Bills safety Jordan Poyer. One of those interceptions was a pick-6.

Woolen’s Week 6 fumble recovery was his second in as many games, too. Six defensive takeaways and four in the last two weeks. How about that?

You may remember that Woolen also blocked a field goal in Week 2 that fellow corner Michael Jackson returned for a touchdown against the 49ers.

So yeah, Woolen is playing lights out football. And while he’s not a household rookie name like Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner of the New York Jets or Aidan Hutchinson of the Detroit Lions – both of whom were top-five picks back in April – he’s been the best defensive rookie playmaker in the NFL this season. As such, he should be a frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year and, as Sherman noted, Defensive Player of the Month for October given what he’s done in recent weeks.

It looks like Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have found their long-term answer at outside cornerback, and the takeaways just keep coming. Have to wonder how much longer opposing quarterbacks will target the rookie given what he’s been doing of late.

Recap: Defense steps up, late TD helps Seahawks beat Cards 19-9

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Rookie CB Tariq Woolen proving Seahawks struck 5th-round gold again