Huard: Seahawks’ Tariq Woolen proves he’s a shutdown CB vs Mahomes

Dec 26, 2022, 1:09 PM
Seahawks Tariq Woolen...
Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen breaks up a pass intended for Chiefs WR Justin Watson on Dec. 24, 2022. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Seahawks fans didn’t have much to cheer about in the team’s 24-10 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Saturday. There were a few bright spots in the game, however, and none brighter than rookie Tariq Woolen.

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Fresh off being voted an NFC Pro Bowler a few days prior, the fifth-round pick out of UTSA played an integral role in holding the Chiefs over five points under their per game average for the season (29.2) and over 80 yards less than their average in the passing game (220 on Saturday, 303.5 season).

“He had 33 coverage snaps, he was targeted twice, and he knocked down one ball, once again showing unbelievable makeup speed,” said Brock Huard, a former NFL quarterback and current FOX football analyst, Monday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“Dude has become a shutdown corner.”

That is lofty praise, but Huard explained why it’s well-earned by the equally lanky and speedy Woolen, who has been a revelation in Seattle by putting it all together in his first year as pro.

“All of these years that you have been searching (for starting cornerbacks), and even when Richard (Sherman) was there,” Huard said of the Seahawks, “… you drafted guys in that same range – fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh round.”

One of those players Seattle drafted at cornerback was Shaquill Griffin, a third-round pick in 2017 who made the Pro Bowl in 2019 and signed a three-year, $40 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021. Huard said Woolen is already playing better than Griffin ever did for the Seahawks, and is even surpassing the rookie performance of a future Pro Football Hall of Famer.

“Shaquill Griffin had some nice years; Shaquill never played like this,” Huard said. “Jacksonville paid him all that money, gave him all that dough – he never looked like Tariq Woolen. Even Richard Sherman, certainly his rookie year, never looked like this. He didn’t become that totally elite, shutdown guy (as a rookie).”

The Chiefs were aware of Woolen’s ability on Saturday, or at least became aware of it during the game when he chased down a deep ball thrown by Kansas City superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes to wide receiver Justin Watson for an impressive breakup in the first quarter.

The Chiefs mainly stayed away from Woolen the rest of the game, and Huard said to expect more of that with him tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions this season.

“Now the challenge is all these interceptions he was getting early, not gonna get many opportunities, man, when you get thrown at twice in 33 coverage snaps,” Huard said. “… This is the No. 1 offense, No. 1 passing offense… ‘No, I ain’t going towards that guy.’ Because they do one time, looks like he’s beat, most guys are beat, and then here comes just that extra gear that he’s got that nobody at his size in the league has.”

You can hear Huard’s full comments in the Blue 88 segment from Monday’s Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Huard: Seahawks’ Tariq Woolen proves he’s a shutdown CB vs Mahomes