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Wednesday Round-Up: PFF Names Riq Woolen, Devon Witherspoon & Jaxon Smith-Njigba Rookies and Second-Year Players To Watch

Sam Monson breaks down why wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba and cornerbacks Riq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon could make Pro Football Focus’ Top-50 players for the 2024 NFL season.

RoundUp 072623

Good morning, 12s. Here's a look at what's out there today — Wednesday, July 26 — about your Seattle Seahawks.

PFF Recognizes Young Seahawks Talent

It's that time of the NFL offseason when Pro Football Focus and the NFL Network release their annual rankings of the Top-50 and Top-100 players league-wide, respectively. While PFF's 2023 Top-50 group didn't feature any Seahawks, writer Sam Monson breaks down why a trio of Seattle rookies or second-year players can be some of the league's best in 2024.

This week, PFF writer Brad Spielberger named second-year cornerback Riq Woolen as one of three Seattle “building blocks” for the franchise’s future. The University of Texas-San Antonio alum recorded 46 solo tackles,6 interceptions and 16 pass deflections, earning a trip to the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl in Las Vegas. After a standout rookie campaign, Monson breaks down why Woolen is climbing to the pinnacle of the league.

The then-rookie Woolen led all cornerbacks last season with six interceptions, and he added nine pass breakups to that tally. Passes thrown his way generated just a 70.0 passer rating, and he did all of that as a fifth-round draft pick. What makes Woolen so intriguing is that he came into the league with unprecedented athletic gifts and measurables as a 6-foot-4 cornerback who ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash time and posted a vertical leap of 42 inches. He is also relatively new to the position, having transitioned from receiver earlier in his college career. If this was just the beginning of what he can be, next season could be truly special.

With the No.5 pick in April's 2023 draft, Seattle selected Illinois cornerback and 2022 Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Devon Witherspoon. Witherspoon became the first Fighting Illini player to earn Consensus All-American honors, after giving up just 22 receptions without allowing a receiving touchdown. Monson looks at Witherspoon's potential if he's able to quickly adjust to the speed of the NFL game.

With the second of two first-round selections (No.20), Seattle selected Ohio State wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Monson breaks down what the dynamic Buckeyes alum brings to Seattle's offense.

This is, perhaps, a tougher sell than the previous two rookies on the list, but Smith-Njigba was exceptionally productive in college in the same offense as Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave — and at the same time. JSN has elite route-running chops and, despite a relatively pedestrian 40-yard dash time, a three-cone time of 6.57 seconds (98th percentile). With vertical threats to scare coverages and the Seahawks' offense crying out for somebody to work the middle of the field, he could have a field day right away.

The offseason has been filled with praise for Seattle's young core on both sides of the ball by national media. With training camp beginning Wednesday, the countdown is on for the 2023 NFL Preseason.

Social Post Of The Day

The NFL social team gets ready for the 2023 season with some rookie highlights from Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III.

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