Huard: How Seahawks rookie CB Tariq Woolen led the NFL in a key stat

Jan 12, 2023, 1:16 PM

Seattle Seahawks Tariq Woolen...

Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks reacts against the New York Giants at Lumen Field on October 30, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks sure found themselves a player in the fifth round of last year’s NFL Draft.

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Cornerback Tariq Woolen, the 153rd overall pick last April, has turned out to be an absolute steal for the Seahawks.

Despite having an incredible mix of size, length and speed, Woolen slipped to the fifth round before Seattle drafted him. He was seen as a very raw prospect who’d need time to refine his play before taking the field.

Instead, Woolen was a Week 1 starter for the Seahawks. Not only that, but he wound up starting every game for Seattle and recording six interceptions (tied for the NFL lead) and 16 pass breakups and earning a Pro Bowl nod.

Seahawks fans know all about Woolen’s elite production in terms of playing the ball, but how about this: Woolen led the NFL in passer rating allowed at just 48.7 this year, per Pro Football Reference. For context, passer rating when spiking the football is 39.6.

So how did Woolen end up with the lowest passer rating allowed in the NFL as a rookie? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard breaks it down during Thursday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

“The reason why Tariq Woolen is No. 1 in the league is because QBs have learned over the course of watching tape and playing this season that throw that I should be able to make when that corner is five yards off in that zone coverage, I can (usually) make that throw, but Tariq Woolen with 4.2 speed and 6-foot-4 length gets to it,” Huard told co-host Mike Salk. “That’s why he’s No. 1, because he actually played to his speed this year.”

Huard said that every single year at the NFL Scouting Combine, players run the 40-yard dash and analysts such as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah say something to the extent of, “you’re not supposed to be able to do that.”

Woolen was one of those players as he measured in at 6-4 with 34-inch arms and then ran a blazing 4.26-second 40-yard dash. And unlike some of those other combine standouts, Woolen’s speed has translated onto the field.

“That was the most amazing thing about Tariq Woolen this year and why he was No. 1 (in opponent passer rating) is his speed translated,” Huard said.

But it goes beyond just physical traits and ability for Woolen.

“The information in the formation, big part of it,” he said. “Seeing it beforehand, but then also in real time. Reacting, being coached up, being developed to ‘Hey, here’s the concepts coming at you, now go pull the trigger,’ and boy did he ever,” Huard said.

Listen to the full second hour of Thursday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player below.

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Huard: How Seahawks rookie CB Tariq Woolen led the NFL in a key stat