Huard: Why has Seahawks’ Riq Woolen disappointed in Year 2?

Nov 8, 2023, 11:15 AM

Riq Woolen Seattle Seahawks...

Seattle Seahawks CB Riq Woolen tackles Detroit's Sam LaPorta on Sept. 17, 2023. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

(Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

For the second year in a row, the Seattle Seahawks are getting major contributions from a rookie cornerback.

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Devon Witherspoon, the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, has largely shined for the Hawks since debuting in Week 2, making his presence known against the pass and run while recording two sacks, nine pass breakups and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Last year, Riq Woolen was the surprise cornerback steal of the draft not just for the Seahawks, but maybe the entire NFL.

The fifth-round pick started every game for the Seattle Seahawks in 2022, tying for the NFL lead with six interceptions to earn Pro Bowl honors and a third-place finish in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

But while Witherspoon has shined this season, Woolen has been a bit of a disappointment, according to former NFL quarterback Brock Huard.

“The most disappointing for me because of the standard he played at last year is Riq Woolen,” Huard said during Wednesday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“I know what Riq Woolen can be and what he has done,” Huard later added. “I have seen him play at a level that he is not playing at right now.”

As for why that’s the case, Huard thinks there are a few possibilities.

“I don’t know if it is confidence, I don’t know if it’s, ‘Man, that ‘Spoon’ guy on the other side is kind of taking some of my some of my luster a little bit,'” he said. “I don’t know if it’s missing a whole lot of time with a knee injury that was significant through OTAs and babying him a little bit through training camp. But just from a physical presence, he’s not bringing it.”

Woolen had a major impact on opposing team’s passing attacks as a rookie, but Huard isn’t seeing that same impact this year.

“Remember how many times you’d look at him and it felt like he swallowed half the field? You just couldn’t throw at him,” Huard said. “And he was on everything. You want to run a crossing route? He is on it. And you’d better be careful because he’s got real long arms and 4.2 speed and he can take it away from you as he did over and over again.”

While Woolen was a true ball-hawking cornerback last year, that hasn’t been the case through eight games in 2023.

“His one interception that kind of fell to him, (he had) another one that he should have had,” Huard said. “But it’s not even those interception numbers. I’m just looking at presence, swag, just confidence, which is so important to playing that position. I am not feeling it. I’m not seeing it. And I think the opponents are getting it, and they’re attacking him.”

Woolen also needs to improve in another key area, Huard said.

“And oh, by the way, some of his tackling has been atrocious. Atrocious,” he said. “Just throwing his shoulder in there and not wrapping and not bringing it … It’s time for Riq to get it going, man.”

Listen to the second hour of Wednesday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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