Former Georgia standout Kelee Ringo one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL draft

Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Here’s the eighth story in our position-by-position NFL draft series. Today, we’ll look at the top cornerbacks.

Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL draft class.

He could be selected in the first round of the draft, which is set for April 27-29 in Kansas City.

Ringo, of Tacoma, Washington, was at Georgia for three seasons and played two. He played in 30 games and his game-clinching 79-yard interception for a touchdown against Alabama in January 2022 secured the school’s first national championship in 40 years.

“Kelee Ringo from Georgia could be (a good nickel back),” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “He’s got great speed and athleticism. He’s a ball-hawk. He’s a taller guy, but I think he can cover inside, in the slot.”

Ringo has a high appreciation for playing the position.

“As a corner, going out there and knowing that you have the utmost confidence in yourself,” Ringo said. “If you take one wrong step, it could possibly be a touchdown. So, it’s coming out there with that swagger. Just believing in yourself and having confidence every single time you step out on that field.”

He worked out with former NFL cornerback Richard Sherman during his pre-draft process.

“It’s been great to learn from the legend himself,” Ringo said. “From technique-wise to (the) mental game, being able to see concepts. It definitely helped me grow as a man as well on the outside of football things.”

Sherman played most of his career in Seattle, which is near Ringo’s hometown. “He slows the game down,” Ringo said. “I would definitely say that he makes things look a lot easier on seeing what’s going to happen to him, specifically what an offensive coordinator wants to be able to do to him in the game.”

Ringo, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, plans to carry those lessons with him into the NFL.

“No matter where I go, I definitely have the winner-type mindset,” Ringo said.

“I fight against adversity like no other man. So, I’ll continue to work. I always have room to grow especially with how young I am. I feel like my upside is definitely there.”

Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez are considered the top two cornerbacks in the draft, followed closely by Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr.

“Devon Witherspoon from Illinois is going to be the first corner taken because he’s the most complete,” McShay said. “He’s a ballhawk. He’s really good in coverage. He’s just so physical.”

Gonzalez started his career at Colorado.

“He’s not a great tackler,” McShay said. “He’s not great in run support. He’s got to get better in those areas.

“But he’s 6-1, almost 200 pounds. He’s a physical freak. Quick feet, fluid hips. He’s got the best pure cover-corner skill set in this year’s class. ... I’d love to see him get a little stronger and become a better tackler with everything else he’s got to work with.”

Porter’s father played linebacker in the NFL for 13 seasons. He played for the Steelers (1999-2006), Dolphins (2007-09) and Cardinals (2010-11).

“I think there is a difference between the first two guys, but it’s not like it’s a massive gap,” McShay said. “Joey Porter is not quite as smooth as Gonzalez in coverage. He’s a little bit inconsistent with his gap discipline. Sometimes, he’ll get himself out of position, but man, if you’re playing a Cover-3 or even Cover-1 and looking for press-cover corners, Joey Porter Jr. from Penn State is your guy.”

Porter specialty is rerouting receivers and getting physical with them near the line of scrimmage.

“Then he’s got top-end speed,” McShay said. “He ran better than I thought he actually would. He ran a 4.46 (in the 40-yard dash). He can recover, too.”

Porter has to play the ball better. He had one interception and 11 pass breakups last season.

Ringo is in the next group of corners, with Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes and Michigan’s D.J. Turner, who played at North Gwinnett High.

“I think he’s 166 pounds at the combine, but he’s got long arms,” McShay said of Forbes. “He has great eyes in zone coverage, in off-coverage.”

He had 14 career interceptions and returned six for touchdowns.

“You talk about a guy with instincts, recognition skills and the ability to understand route combinations,” McShay said. “We’ve seen him wheel off of his guy and go and make a play on the ball. He knows when to get his eyes in the backfield and figure out where the quarterback is going with the ball, gets early jumps consistently.”

Maryland’s Deonte Banks also may go in the first round of the draft.

“He missed the whole year (2021) with a shoulder (injury),” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “Came back this year. The problem with Banks is that he tracks the deep ball. He’s with the receiver, but he doesn’t locate the deep ball as well at the end of route.”


WIDE RECEIVERSPast few drafts have spoiled NFL teams looking for wide receivers | Top 10 WRs

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TIGHT ENDSNotre Dame’s Michael Mayer heads a dee TE class | Top 10 TEs

QUARTERBACKSBryce Young’s small stature no longer an issue in the NFL | Top 10 QBs

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