Cowboys draft prospects scouting reports for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Name: Kelee Ringo
Weight: 205 pounds
Kelee Ringo’s name has been very popular for quite some time. Hailing from the same state as yours truly - Arizona - Ringo was the fourth highest-rated prospect of any position in his class. Playing both running back and cornerback in high school, as well as winning a state title twice in track and field, Ringo could have played college ball quite literally anywhere.
He opted for Georgia, a move that looks really smart after winning consecutive national championships. Ringo redshirted his first year with the Bulldogs due to a shoulder injury, but he became a starter the very next year. He was a star right away, and was named to the Freshman All-SEC list in 2021. He wasn’t as dominant in 2022, but was still named to the All-SEC second team.
As the Cowboys enter the offseason with plenty of questions at the cornerback spot opposite Trevon Diggs, Ringo is a name that is sure to come up plenty. Without a clear consensus at the top of this cornerback group, Ringo offers a lot of talent at a position of need for Dallas.
Man Coverage: He is sticky in man coverage, with an ability to match almost any receiver step for step. It’s incredibly rare to see someone run away from Ringo; there are instances where he uses trail technique to allow his receiver separation, but it’s only because he has correct leverage, along with great length and closing speed, to make up the distance in a heartbeat. In 2022, he did get beat several times on double moves, as he trusts his eyes a little too much at times. That can be cleaned up, and it’s a rare blemish.
Zone Coverage: Ringo has great eyes, and in zone coverage that is very apparent. He has a great understanding of where to look and does an excellent job of passing off receivers in zone. He has a litany of plays where he just hones in on the quarterback’s eyes and shows off his tremendous closing speed once he makes a read on where the throw is going. He’s probably a little bit better in zone than man, but the elite talent is present in both coverages.
Playmaking Ability: He has adequate ball skills, but nothing that would earn him the ballhawk moniker. That’s also not his style of play; Ringo is more of a suffocating presence who doesn’t allow open windows. In 2021, Ringo was sixth among all corners in coverage snaps per reception, highlighting how stingy his coverage can be. The byproduct of that style of play is little ball production.
Athleticism: Ringo is a freak athlete. As mentioned, he was a track star in high school in addition to playing football. That athleticism translates to the football field, and he uses it well. He is sure to post gaudy numbers at the combine, which should help rehabilitate his draft stock after an uneven 2022 season.
Run Support: It’s rare to find a cornerback as talented as Ringo that is also a willing and eager run defender; usually, cornerbacks are better in run support when they’re compensating for something in coverage. This is to say that Ringo is a better run defender than most star corners, but definitely not a great run defender. He’s got all the potential to be one, especially with his rocked up frame and athleticism, but he is definitely a cover corner first and foremost. On a scale of Trevon Diggs to DaRon Bland, Ringo is a happy medium in run support.
Processing: The Georgia defense is a very complex one, and head coach Kirby Smart puts a lot of mental load on his defensive backs in particular. Ringo’s ability to learn the playbook within a year and become an impact player speaks to his football IQ. He also has very good eyes, which allows him to see things clearly on the field and put himself in position for his natural talent to take over. He’s still susceptible to double moves, which is reflective of just two years of experience as a college athlete, but that will get better with time.
Intangibles: Based on his 2021 season, Ringo is the best cornerback in the draft. His 2022 season was an example of major regression towards the mean. What was the reason for that, and is it something that could have larger implications for his pro career? These are the questions that will need to be answered in order to get a clearer picture of who Ringo is.