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Tariq Woolen shows up big in the mock game

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks’ annual mock game went off on Saturday, and we got our first chance to see/read about the bevy of roster additions that made their way onto Lumen Field. Among these players was rookie corner Tariq Woolen, who surprisingly got the nod over fellow rookie Coby Bryant to work with the first team defense while Sidney Jones remains in the concussion protocol.

As you may have heard, the University of Texas San Antonio receiver-turned-cornerback put up the 6th fastest 40-yard dash time EVER RECORDED at the Combine in March. Not only this, but his rare combination of size and speed go hand in hand with his background as a wide receiver; this, of course, got a lot of people talking when Seattle elected to draft him with the 153rd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft — which is exactly one pick earlier (albeit eleven years later) than Richard Sherman, who went 154th in 2011.

Now, comparing any rookie to Sherm is a fool’s errand; this is simply an acknowledgement of the narrative that will undoubtedly come up at least a few more times as long as Woolen is out on the field making plays like this:

Woolen mixes it up with Marquise Goodwin at the line and then hangs with him through the fade, tracking the ball perfectly and pulling in an over the shoulder pick. At this point, you might want to take a brief moment to recognize that these types of ball skills are impressive in a defensive back, as Woolen’s acumen as a wide receiver is on full display here. He was once a three star recruit as a pass catcher, so this isn’t shocking, but still extremely impressive. And maybe he had something to prove going up against a fellow speedster; here he is again taking on Goodwin, this time using his exceptional length to disrupt the catch.

Interestingly enough, Marquise Goodwin also posted an all-time top-ten 40-yard dash at his respective combine. The unheard of combination of this level of speed and Tariq’s nearly 34” arms more or less guarantee that this guy is going to continue to build hype during this offseason. He seems to display the traits and instinctive play style that will endear him to Pete Carroll if he keeps it up. Of course, we have exactly one mock game and some training camp to go off of, so there is absolutely no reason at this point to rush to conclusions here; picking off Geno Smith isn’t a surefire sign that you are on a hall of fame track. However, for the player who claims that “speed is my greatest asset,” he is far from a one-dimensional burner. Here is a clip back from the end of July where he shows his sticky, instinctive style of play while tracking Penny Hart.

After signing players like DJ Reed and drafting guys like Tre Brown and Coby Bryant, many started to wonder if Pete Carroll and John Schneider were turning away from their once-rigid physical metrics for defensive backs. You can include me in this camp; I tend to prefer evaluating performance over honing in on one-dimensional physical traits. However, seeing a guy like Tariq Woolen show up is a great reminder that when a player can combine the former with the latter... good things tend to happen.