Woolen Mammoth? This rookie star at Seahawks OTAs almost never made the transition to defense
Seaside Bonus: Whether it's the Senior Bowl, the Combine, or OTAs, Tariq Woolen can't stop winning this year
It can be extremely difficult to evaluate any cornerback who has yet to go face to face with receivers in the NFL, but that challenge is taken to another level with Tariq Woolen. Despite a size and speed combo rarely ever seen (though Woolen has “shrunken” from 6’6 to 6’5 to 6’4 by the time the NFL draft happened), Woolen has gone from a relatively lightly recruited receiver in the 2017 high school class to an inexperienced but uniquely talented cornerback in the 2022 draft.
If it weren’t for all the disappointments at his college program over the first three years of his career, leading to the firing of his head coach and a position change in 2020, Woolen may have never had the opportunity to be starring for the Seahawks at OTAs last week.
This is how Seattle may have landed a fifth round steal at cornerback… again.
After posting 31 catches for 536 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Arlington Heights High School, Woolen only had six offers to play at the next level, choosing University of Texas-San Antonio over Houston and four other schools. You would think that every local program from Texas to Texas Tech would at least be in the mix for a 6’4 corner who we now know can run a sub-4.3, but it seems nobody knew anything about the nationally unranked three-star recruit back in 2016.
Maybe by the end of his rookie season, we’ll never be able to know enough to satisfy our intrigue in how Tariq Woolen has flown under the radar for so long.
How Covid and coaching changes turned Woolen into a CB
Through three seasons as a receiver under head coach Frank Wilson, Woolen had only caught 24 passes for 263 yards, failing to capitalize on the speed that would eventually get him drafted in the fifth round by the Seahawks. Just prior to Wilson being fired at the end of that third season, the head coach had asked Woolen if he would transition from receiver to cornerback.
As told by Woolen on the Draft Dudes Podcast prior to the draft, he told his head coach… No thanks! Woolen explained to Wilson that he had only ever played offense and that he wasn’t interesting in switching to the defense.
“When he was asking me that I was like Nahhh, nahhh.”