Rost: Which young Seahawks need to break out in 2024?

Feb 23, 2024, 9:01 AM | Updated: 9:05 am

Seattle Seahawks Riq Woolen...

Riq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates on Oct. 29, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Show me a Super Bowl team and I’ll show you a surprise performer.
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Every team needs its stars – your Patrick Mahomes, your Travis Kelce, your Chris Jones. But the Kansas City Chiefs also made it to, and won, Super Bowl LVIII because second-year cornerback Trent McDuffie had an All-Pro season, rookie receiver Rashee Rice finished with nearly 1,000 yards, and 22-year-old edge rusher George Karlaftis finished with 10.5 sacks. If you want to look beyond young first-rounders, look at a player like Charles Omenihu, who had a career-high seven sacks.

The Seattle Seahawks will find help in plenty of ways; you’ve got returning veteran stars like DK Metcalf, plus the draft and free agency. But to really push themselves to contention, they’ll need more than just contributions – they’ll need a breakout season – from some of their youngest players.

The task? To choose the young player you think could most impact the Seahawks’ 2024 season. Here’s who we picked on the Bump and Stacy show.

Bump: Riq Woolen

Woolen is entering his third season in Seattle with plenty of promise and a few question marks.

The physical traits are off the charts. You can’t teach height and speed, and at 6-foot-4 with a 4.26 40, Woolen’s measurables were enough to make any general manager salivate. This was despite his slight frame and limited experience as a defensive back, which is part of the reason he slipped into the fifth round.

One stellar rookie campaign later, Woolen was entering his second season with sky-high expectations. As with most players who set an impossibly high bar in their rookie season, his sophomore year felt more up and down. Nothing much was working defensively for Seattle in 2023, and tackling issues showed up in Woolen’s game as well.

“(Woolen) was injured before the season,” Bumpus said as part of a separate conversation about whether Woolen’s rookie season was an outlier. “So you come into training camp when you’re available and you might not have the confidence you once had because you’re trusting, in Riq’s situation, that your knee is gonna hold up and you’re not going to feel that little tweak. So mentally you have to get through that. And secondly, when I look at DBs as a receiver and as a receiver coach, I’m learning their tendencies. Like ‘OK, by my third step vertical he typically takes this step; by my fifth step I can get him to turn his hips; he’s not comfortable when I stem him this way.’ You start breaking down that player and you figure out a plan to beat this guy. The good DBs are gonna find their way out of it. But Woolen has only been a cornerback for three years, so he hasn’t lost enough battles to go back into that memory bank and get back into your foundation and figure out what you need to work on.”

Bumpus is hoping a new coaching staff and another year of experience can shape an improved 2024 season for Woolen – an obviously impactful choice, since it would give Seattle one of the league’s better corner tandems.

Stacy: Charles Cross

No offense meant to offensive linemen, but this position won’t typically dominate preseason watch lists. That said, improvement in the trenches is the single most important thing for Seattle’s development, and former No. 9 overall pick Charles Cross can be a huge part of that.

There’s a bit of pride with this choice. I’d like for him to be impactful because he was the first pick used in that trade package the Seahawks got for Russell Wilson. Getting a decade-long career from a franchise left tackle, especially for a team that’s desperately craved that kind of stability on its offensive line, would be a sweet return.

But it’s also because Cross has the potential to be that kind of player in his third season. He struggled at times in 2023, but also played a large chunk of the season with nagging toe injury suffered in Week 1.

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