What Seahawks CB Riq Woolen said that stands out to Bump

Jun 7, 2024, 11:13 AM

Seattle Seahawks Riq Woolen...

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

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Cornerback Riq Woolen made his name known across the NFL during an impressive rookie season in 2022 with the Seattle Seahawks.

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Woolen, a fifth-round pick out of Texas-San Antonio, was a turnover machine during his first season in Seattle. He led the league with six interceptions, recovered three fumbles, forced another and scored a defensive touchdown. His efforts led to a third-place finish in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting and a Pro Bowl nod. The following season, however, Woolen experienced some growing pains.

Woolen spoke about his time as a Seahawk and what he’s seeing under a new coaching staff when he recently joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. Former Seahawks wideout Michael Bumpus broke down what he heard from Woolen on Thursday while pinch-hitting for Brock Huard during Blue 88 on Brock and Salk.

“When you speak to him, you can tell that he heard the noise about his play last year,” Bumpus said. “He mentioned that when you play well, they love you. When you don’t, they hate you. And I think it’s important for guys to kind of digest that but not let that consume them, and that’s what I felt like I got out of him. He realized there’s some things I need to work on, but I’m still the guy who was a Pro Bowler that first year who had six interceptions and who everybody loved.”

Ready to rewrite his story

Woolen’s rookie season was a feel-good story for the surprising 2022 Seahawks. The Fort Worth, Texas, native was seen as a major project coming out college. He played corner for just two seasons with the Roadrunners after converting from wide receiver, and it came against a lower level of competition in the mid-major Conference USA.

The rangy defensive back did look every bit the part of an NFL player with his undeniable measurables on display at the combine, though. Woolen possesses elite size at 6 foot 4 and 205 pounds, led all defensive backs with a 42-inch vertical jump and was second with a 4.26-second 40-yard dash. The size and athleticism were major factors in why Woolen was able to breakout immediately as a rookie.

His second year in the league was a bit of step back, though. Woolen saw a dip in just about every major statistical category during his sophomore season as teams found ways to attack him more effectively. He allowed quarterbacks to complete 6.2% more of their passes with a quarterback rating over 30 points higher (48.7 to 79.8) and his interceptions total dropped to two. Woolen also struggled to take down defenders and saw his missed-tackle rate skyrocket from 7.4% to 14.5%.

After Woolen showed signs of regression in year two, the Seahawks used picks on corners Nehemiah Pritchett and D.J. James in this year’s draft.

“I hear a guy (who) sounds more mature, too,” Bumpus said. “Going into your third year in the league will do something to you. So I heard a young man who’s been through a lot. He’s been at the top, he’s had some failures, but he’s excited to kind of rewrite his story of who he is, and I believe him. But there’s some competition, and I think he realizes that too. They didn’t just draft two DBs just to sit on the bench and observe what’s going on.”

Impressed by new offense

Another thing that stood out to Bumpus is what Woolen had to say about new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb’s scheme. Much has been made of what the Seahawks could do under Grubb, who led one of the nation’s top offenses with the UW Huskies the past two seasons. Count Woolen in as a believer in the new attack.

“I also heard that this offense is ridiculous,” Bumpus said. “He said he was speechless when trying to describe exactly what Ryan Grubb and everyone else is doing.”

Listen to all of Thursday’s Blue 88 with Michael Bumpus at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6-10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

• ESPN’s Adam Schefter views Seahawks ‘as a playoff contender’
• Will Seahawks’ offense add this facet under Ryan Grubb?
• Schefter: How Mike Macdonald surprised by picking Seahawks
Report: Seahawks plan to sign free agent backup QB
• Could Seahawks’ Jaxon Smith-Njigba be a No. 1 receiver?
• Seattle Seahawks on Grubb’s new offense: ‘It’s completely different’

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