Seahawks Rookie Is a Draft Steal, per ESPN Analyst

Getty GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 09: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks talks with Sidney Jones #23 before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks got some promising players from the 2022 NFL Draft, including a pair of starting-caliber offensive tackles and a dynamic running back in Kenneth Walker III. However, according to one ESPN analyst, it was the fifth round where the Seahawks came away with a huge steal.

ESPN’s Matt Bowen gave his best team fits and mid-round steals following the draft. He chose former UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen as one of the best values of the draft after being selected with the 153rd overall pick.

“I’m betting on the traits and the physical tools of Woolen, a 6-foot-4 corner with 4.26 speed,” Bowen said. “With pro coaching and more technical refinement, he has tremendous upside as a press/zone corner in the Seahawks’ defensive system. Woolen can match and carry vertically, with the length to create on-the-ball production.”

Woolen was the second cornerback taken by the Seahawks, with the other being Cincinnati corner Coby Bryant. The former Bearcats CB was also considered a draft steal after falling to the fourth round.

Tariq Woolen’s Path to the NFL

Although he was drafted as a cornerback, Woolen’s college career with the Roadrunners actually started as a wide receiver. He only caught one touchdown playing the position over his first two seasons, but transitioned to cornerback halfway through 2019.

Although he’s still learning the finer points of the position, Woolen showed flashes of being a legitimate defensive back in his final two college seasons. He earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors in 2021 despite missing four games, racking up 25 tackles, five pass deflections and an interception.

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Despite the limited time at the cornerback position, Woolen’s size and athleticism are what made him such an intriguing draft prospect. He ran one of the fastest 40-yard dashes in NFL history, posting a time of only 4.26 seconds. His vertical jump of 42 inches also put him in the 97th percentile of cornerbacks to test in the drill.

There are very few cornerbacks in NFL history who have been 6’4″ and 205 pounds. That may not necessarily be a good thing for Woolen, but he has a chance to be one of the most unique defensive backs in NFL history if he can continue to develop at the position.

Seahawks Rookies Already Showing Promise

Seahawks fans got their first look at the team’s draft picks at this year’s rookie minicamp. While it’s still way too early to expect anything from the rookies, it’s a great opportunity for the players to start getting comfortable with their new team.

Unfortunately, Woolen was a bit late to joining the team’s activities while dealing with a sore hamstring. The good news is that head coach Pete Carroll doesn’t see it as any cause for concern.

“He just has a little bit of a hamstring that is bothering him that showed up in the physical coming through,” Carroll said after Friday’s practice. “We just don’t want to push it until we know better.”

The other rookies may be getting off to a smoother start, but Woolen will have plenty of time to prove himself once training camp and the preseason come around.

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