The 2022 NFL Draft looks to have a particularly deep and talented class of cornerbacks.
This draft class is so thoroughly talented that we could see as many as 15 cornerbacks drafted by the end of the third round. That’s fantastic news for cornerback-needy defenses, and potentially bad news for passing offenses around the NFL.
There will be corners to fit just about every defensive scheme and need. There are smaller slot corners, skilled technicians, and big, physical, and athletic corners like Georgia’s Kelee Ringo.
New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale bases much of his scheme on aggressive coverage and using defensive backs to scheme pressure up front. That means the Giants need a lot of corners on their roster, and corners who can keep the ball in quarterbacks’ hands. Ringo has plenty of experience playing on the biggest stages, and his athletic traits could appeal to Martindale and the Giants.
Games Played: 29
Tackles for a loss: 3.0
Forced fumbles: 1
Passes defensed: 15
Games Played: 14
Tackles for a loss: 2.0
Forced fumbles: 1
Passes defensed: 7
Best: Size, long speed, zone coverage, discipline
Worst: Foot quickness, hip fluidity, ball production
Projection: A starting corner in a zone-based coverage scheme.
(Ringo is Georgia CB number 5)
Georgia’s Kelee Ringo is a big, fast, smart and disciplined cornerback prospect.
Ringo has prototypical size and speed for the position at the NFL level, standing 6-foot 1 ¾ inches tall, 207 pounds, and running a 4.36 second 40-yard dash. That size and speed allows him to carry speedy receivers down the field, as well as match up big, physical X receivers. He was frequently tasked with shadowing the opposing team’s biggest, most physical receiver in the tape viewed. That meant that Ringo usually lined up out wide, though he did play the slot on occasion when his man motioned inside.
Ringo played both zone and man coverage in Georgia’s diverse defensive scheme. He generally communicated well before and after the snap, and showed great patience throughout the route. He seems to have a solid understanding of offensive route concepts and allowed them to develop without forcing him into conflict when it could be avoided. Ringo has smooth hips in transition and executed pattern matching rules well in zone coverage. He is able to turn and run with receivers on vertical routes and his speed lets him recover any separation given up.
He is physical at the catch point and does a great job of using his size and burst to attack receivers hands. While he doesn’t have much ball production, Ringo’s physicality and positioning makes him very disruptive. He also has some upside as a blitzing cornerback thanks to his burst and speed into the backfield.
Ringo has most of the tools to be a truly scheme-diverse cornerback, but lacks the quick feet and flexible hips to stay with receivers throughout their routes as a press man corner. Ringo’s feet are relatively slow, which shows up in his transitions and when he’s forced to trigger downhill. That can force him to waste valuable instants gathering himself when the receiver runs a curl or comeback route. And while he has smooth hips, they are tighter than is ideal for man coverage corners. He doesn’t show the ability to open his hips in transition, preventing him from staying in phase with agile receivers on sharply breaking routes.
Ringo’s issues with foot speed and agility can also impact his work as a run defender. He can struggle to put himself in a good position to break down, wrap up, and drive through the ball carrier. He is a willing run defender, and is unafraid to get his hands dirty, but he isn’t always in good position. As a result, Ringo is more of a “hitter” than a good form tackler. His size and strength allow him to get the ball carrier on the ground, but he can give up yards after contact.
Overall Grade: 7.2
Kelee Ringo projects as a starting outside corner at the NFL level, with his ceiling highest in a zone defense with coverage rules that convert to man coverage against deep routes.
Ringo has the tools to match up against most receivers in the NFL. His size and physicality allow him to cover bigger receivers and even some tight ends, while his speed lets him keep up with burners down the field. Ringo can struggle against quick or agile receivers when in man coverage, but his discipline is an asset against them in zone coverage.
He isn’t a perfect cornerback and his future team will need to understand his strengths as well as his weaknesses. Smart offenses will look to isolate Ringo on their quicker receivers and could exploit one-on-one match-ups with quick comeback routes to keep the chains moving or double-moves to attack vertically. The aspects of Ringo’s game that are affected by his feet and hips – such as his tackling and issues with quicker receivers – could haunt him in the NFL. However, his size and overall athleticism will earn him plenty of chances to succeed.