Tariq Woolen. Period. That’s it. Should be the end of the paragraph as the Seahawks cornerback has done all his talking on the field really.
But let’s be real. What Seattle has gotten from their fifth-round 2022 draft pick is much more than the Seahawks could have hoped for so early in Woolen’s career. 4 interceptions in four games? No one does that whether that player is a veteran or a rookie. But Woolen has.
But Woolen also gets better seemingly every week. Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Woolen had an overall grade of 83.6 in Week 6. From Week 1 through Week 6, Woolen’s grades go as follows: 50.5, 52.3, 66.7, 69.5, 73.0 and then the 83.6 from Week 6. So literally, Woolen has improved with each game.
But is Woolen the next Richard Sherman? The comparison has been oft-written as both players transitioned from wide receiver to cornerback in college, both were fifth-round picks and both are tall corners. But saying Woolen is the next Sherman might be a disservice to both players. Sherman was great but Woolen could be better in the long term.
Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen might already be a top NFL corner
Woolen is currently tied for the NFL lead with those 4 picks. But he isn’t getting interceptions because he accidentally gets them. He is in the right position to pick the ball off and he has learned extremely quickly how to be in the right position in the NFL. It’s only a matter of time before NFL quarterbacks stop throwing the ball his way.
Woolen, though, has missed only 1 tackle in 2022. His passer rating against is just 38.6. His yards allowed per reception (currently 12.9) continues to digress each week. Sauce Gardner, a teammate of Seahawks rookie corner Coby Bryant in college, was expected to be good for the Jets in his rookie year and he has been. But Woolen has so far been better.
Gardner has missed 3 tackles, has 1 interception and allowed a quarterback rating when targeted of 54.2. Good numbers. Just not as good as Woolen’s.
Richard Sherman also had 4 interceptions for the Seahawks as a rookie in 2011. Woolen has 4 picks in 6 games, though. Sherman’s quarterback rating allowed was 57.3. His coverage grade, per PFF, was 79.3. Woolen’s is currently less at 72.4. Overall, Sherman had a fantastic rookie year but so far Woolen is better.
Maybe Woolen doesn’t maintain his pace of being great at corner, not just as a rookie but for any NFL corner, in 2022. But there isn’t any reason to think he will get worse. He simply learns from his mistakes too quickly and has the athletic ability to play anyone.
Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson did not mince words when asked about Woolen post-game after Week 6 saying that Woolen is “going to be a Hall of Famer, He’s a walking gold jacket.” Maybe that could be taken as hyperbole but from what we have seen from Woolen so far, it might just be a safe assumption.