Huard: Why Seahawks CB Woolen didn’t win Defensive Rookie of the Year

Feb 10, 2023, 11:42 AM

Seattle Seahawks Tariq Woolen...

Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks intercepts a pass against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 4, 2022. (Harry How/Getty Images)

(Harry How/Getty Images)

NFL Honors has come and gone and while Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith took home Comeback Player of the Year, Seattle went 0-for-2 in Rookie of the Year voting.

Seahawks QB Geno Smith named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Running back Kenneth Walker III finished second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race behind Jets receiver Garrett Wilson despite finishing with one more first-place vote.

On the other side of the ball, fifth-round cornerback Tariq Woolen finished third behind Jets cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and netted just one first-place vote despite finising the season tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with six.

So why did Woolen ultimately fall short in the voting? Here’s what former NFL quarterback Brock Huard said during Friday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“Because the case just lost steam as the season went on. And that’s what happens to elite corners,” Huard said. “We watched it happen with Richard Sherman. We watched Richard, the first couple years of his career – one year he had eight interceptions.”

Huard said Sherman, who was an elite ballhawk with Seattle would throw those interception numbers in other people’s faces, including then-Jets corner and new Hall of Famer Darrell Revis, when discussing why he felt he was the NFL’s top cornerback at the time.

“And Revis was like, ‘OK, you just wait. You just kind of wait,’ because when you become elite and you become lock down, they don’t look your way and you just do not get the targets and you don’t get the 50-50 balls that (Woolen) was getting the first half of the season,” Huard said.

That was part of what happened with Woolen as four of his six interceptions came Week 6 or earlier, and he also didn’t record an interception after Week 13.

“So I think unfortunately for him, (his case) just ran out of some of that mojo, some of that national narrative, some of the lazy narrative of people that just don’t watch the Seahawks close enough, and certainly not in the way they do in the big markets,” Huard said. “Not the way they do with Sauce Gardner and not the way they did with Aidan Hutchinson.”

Both Gardner and Hutchinson “came alive in the second half of the year,” Huard said, while Woolen’s biggest splash plays were in the first half of 2022.

“So I think that’s largely why (Woolen didn’t win),” he said. “A little bit of laziness from the voters and a little bit unfortunately of what happens, the other side of that sword, when you take the ball away as much as he did early. You’re just not going to get as many bites at the apple.”

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

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