Riq Woolen gets a lump of coal
What happened to Riq Woolen? He was a fifth-round draft pick in 2022 and then became a first-year Pro Bowler who had a league-leading 6 interceptions. He was also aggressive in tackling and used his 6'4" frame to punish ballcarriers. He looked like one side of a lock-down corner duo after the Seahawks took Devon Witherspoon in the 2023 draft. But while Witherspoon has been terrific, Woolen looks like a shell of his 2022 self.
In 2022, Woolen allowed a quarterback rating of only 48.7, missed only 5 tackles (7.4 percent of his tackle attempts), and just 51.5 percent of pass attempts thrown his way were completed. This year, those numbers have jumped to 73.9 (still relatively solid but slipping over the last many games), 8 (15.4 percent), and 56.5 percent.
Woolen has played this year like a player who fears getting hurt. That slows reaction time and obviously causes less aggression. In the NFL, that would cause most players their jobs. Unfortunately, injuries come with the game, but one cannot be afraid of getting hurt just as a race car driver cannot be afraid of crashing a car.
Woolen is still young enough to be better in future years. Maybe he will end up being somewhere between his 2022 version and the 2023 one. That would be OK, but certainly not a number 1 corner. (Though he did make a nice tackle at the end of Week 16 to finish off the victory.)