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Getting Drafty: Kelee Ringo

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Georgia vs Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft kicks off later this week with 13 former Bulldogs in the pool of players hoping to see their pro football dreams come true. Throughout the week we’re going to take a look at each of them, weighing their We begin our survey of NFL Draft-eligible Bulldogs with a surprisingly polarizing player.

Kelee Ringo arrived in Athens as one of the more decorated prospects in a class full of decorated prospects, the #4 ranked player in a 2020 class that was ranked #1 in the country and which formed the core of two consecutive national title teams.

After redshirting in 2020 to recover from offseason shoulder surgery Ringo broke into the lineup in a big way in 2021, playing in all fifteen games, starting the final twelve. Along the way he broke up eight passes and snagged two interceptions, including this one:

That never gets old.

He returned in 2022 as the Bulldogs’ clear starter at corner and one of the clear leaders of a unit which had lost a lot of talent. Ringo responded to the added pressure by turning in a second team All-SEC season that included 42 tackles and 2 more interceptions. And now, he’s looking to make a name and a living for himself in the NFL.

What does Ringo bring to the table physically? Everything . All of it. At 6’2 and 207 pounds he is big enough to bump and run with just about any receiver you could match him up against.

And while it’s not surprising to UGA fans, he also confirmed at the NFL Combine that he has speed to burn by blazing a 4.36 forty. Kelee Ringo has the size/speed/strength ratio that NFL scouts covet.

The combination of Ringo’s height and arm length and the speed he flashed in Indianapolis allow him to not only stay with receivers but catch up to the play when he’s not in position.

The NFL right now features several wide receivers who present nearly impossible physical mismatches for the everyday corner (to the extent there’s anything “everyday” about the elite athletes who populate NFL rosters). Ringo is the rare corner with the size and speed to run and trade paint with those players.

So what’s the catch? Well, you’re Bulldog fans. You already know. Ringo makes brilliant plays. But he’s not a robot. He can get turned around in coverage at times. He is sometimes a step slow out of breaks and as a result is susceptible to well-timed throws. That could be a problem in the League.

When Keely Ringo is on, he is as good a lock down cornerback as any in this year’s draft. But he is also going to give up some big plays. That’s his game. The team that drafted him is going to have to be comfortable with that.

When Keely Ringo is on, he is as good a lockdown cornerback as any in this year‘s draft. But he is also going to give up some big plays. That’s his game. The team that drafts him is going to have to be comfortable with that.

I expect that they will, because if we’re being intellectually honest about it that’s the case with most every cornerback who finds themselves on an island for a significant percentage of passing snaps. Kirby Smart famously adheres to the Nick Saban school of thought in which you recruit big, fast corners, and put them out in one-on-one coverage. Ideally the increased pressure this allows you to bring up front prevents those corners from having to cover for too long. Sometimes it doesn’t, and things go wrong.

Kelee Ringo’s no different. So while he’s given up some big plays, and he will give up more in the future, I expect he’ll do so after being one of the top 50 or so selections in this year’s draft.