Don't take Tariq Woolen for granted
He didn't win DROY, but that doesn't diminish his rare accomplishments
Though I wrote on Thursday that I will not cover many day two and day three prospects in the draft, nor have I ever spent that much time going deep on a class, I just happened to luck into a podcast interview with Tariq Woolen last year prior to him becoming a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
It stood out to me, this guy who absolutely hated the idea of moving over from offense to defense late in his career at UTSA, only giving in once it became obvious that cornerback gave him a real shot at playing in the NFL. Not so if Woolen had gotten his way and insisted on staying at wide receiver, in which case he’s probably on a practice squad somewhere instead of at the NFL Honors ceremony.
Woolen did not win Defensive Rookie of the Year on Thursday and though I know that matters to many fans right now, and it may have mattered to Woolen a little bit though I suspect he was “just happy to be here”, I have always attended the George C. Scott school of awards ceremonies.
The Academy Awards are “a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons.”
You might think that finding a player like Tariq Woolen in the fifth round would make it even more appealing to deep dive and study draft prospects, but I think the opposite is true. Little about Woolen stood out other than the obvious: He’s a 6’4, 205 lb human who runs a 4.26. But he was inexperienced and all of the reports said he played poorly against bad competition.
In the aftermath of the Richard Sherman find in 2011, I have learned my lesson about overrating prospects who will become “the next” somebody based on physical or circumstantial comparisons. Wasted time on Stanley Jean-Baptiste, the “next Richard Sherman.” Wasted time on Obi Melifonwu, the “next Kam Chancellor.” There were so many "next Kam Chancellor” prospects and even more than a decade later, through Winston Guy to Divine Deablo and many others, what could be more obvious than this:
What makes Kam special is that he’s one of a kind.
The same goes for Sherman and the same will go for Woolen. They have similarities, but they are not the same. We don’t need to compare cornerbacks from different eras, but if you insist…Tariq Woolen could be better than Sherman, something Sherman has already acknowledged himself.