Kelee Ringo stood out to Eagles who 'had him much higher'

On3 imageby:Palmer Thombs04/30/23


The Philadelphia Eagles made a lot of Georgia fans happy over the weekend taking three former Bulldogs in the 2023 NFL Draft while also trading for another. Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith went in the first round, and the trade to acquire D’Andre Swift made headlines as a former All-SEC star and second round selection, but there might not be a bigger steal for Philadelphia than getting Kelee Ringo in the fourth round at No. 105 overall.

“A lot of times you go overnight, and you sit there looking at who stands out on your board. Kelee stood out for us. We had him much higher than where he was at this time, so we went to try and get him,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said during an interview with ESPN during the draft. “He’s in a situation here where we have phenomenal outside corners starting with (Darius) Slay and James Bradberry, Pro Bowl players and Pro Bowl people. He doesn’t have to come in and be Superman here. He can come in, he can learn and kind of bide his time and work on his skillset.”

“We’re talking about a 20 year old corner who’s played at the highest level, one of the top recruits in the country coming out,” Roseman continued. “We were excited to get him, and it’s a position we’re always looking for. We didn’t get on in the first two days of the draft. Being able to add him, we thought it was good for our football team.”

Ringo was at one point in time considered to be one of the top corners in the entire draft. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds while having 4.3 speed, his combination of size and speed is unique. That’s part of the reason why Ringo was the No. 4 overall player and No. 1 cornerback in the Class of 2020 coming out of high school. At time, Ringo reminded folks why he was rated that highly. Other times he left folks with a reason to scratch their head wondering why it wasn’t clicking for him with stiffness as a primary concern – and a reason why some have projected him to make the move to safety in the NFL.

Another factor that contributed to his fall were reports that surfaced during the draft of a medical concern surrounding Ringo’s shoulder. After arriving on campus in the summer of 2020, Ringo underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum. He wore a brace on that shoulder throughout his college career. Ringo told reporters in his post-draft interview that his shoulder feels fine and that it shouldn’t be a concern. For the Eagles, it wasn’t.

“We believe in the player and the person,” Roseman said about Ringo, speaking later in th e afternoon with reporters in Philadelphia. “I know there were reports – we watch the draft, it’s on in our draft room – and we don’t have a question about his work ethic. We don’t have a question about his medicals… When we looked at our scouts’ evaluations and his objective profile and then his character report for us, we thought it made sense.”

Ringo was also excited about landing with the Eagles. While the pick didn’t necessarily come as early in the draft as he might have thought it would, he kept proper perspective on the situation and knew things would be okay.

“I just continued to be really grateful. I’m thankful to be in this position,” Ringo said. “Many people look forward to being able to get drafted and don’t actually get the opportunity. I’m in this situation for a reason. God has his way of doing everything, and it might not always be on your time, but I continued to be grateful and keep faith, and I knew everything would work itself out.”

“I’m super excited to have an opportunity to go to the Eagles overall but it definitely makes it better to have my past teammates at the University of Georgia here,” he continued. “We definitely have bonds that will continue to grow. They would be there even if we were on different teams, but to be in the same building as those guys and to hear from the guys that have been there – Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean – me, Jalen and Nolan walk in there with open arms from the entire community and the staff. It’s definitely a great situation to be coming into as a rookie.”

Ringo also knows that he has developing to do. Only 20 years old, he’s far from a finished product and plans to continue to get better.

“I need to continue to grow and compete in every single aspect of my game,” Ringo said. “Whether it’s technique-wise, seeing concepts from offenses and stuff like that, I feel like I can continue to stay on my technique and continue to learn the ins and outs of the game, being able to see things before they happen. Specifically players at my position – whether it’s safety, nickel or corner – when you’re able to see what offenses are trying to do to you before it happens then you can definitely get a jump start and make more plays and things will slow down for you. I definitely feel like I can grow my game in those aspects more.”

Ringo was among the 10 Georgia players to get picked over the course of the three-day 2023 NFL Draft. Jalen Carter (Philadelphia Eagles), Broderick Jones (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Nolan Smith (Eagles) went in the first round before Darnell Washington (Steelers) had his name called on night two in the third round. Then, on Saturday, Ringo (Eagles), Stetson Bennett (Rams), Christopher Smith (Las Vegas Raiders), Robert Beal (San Francisco 49ers), Warren McClendon (Rams) and Kenny McIntosh (Seattle Seahawks) joined the Georgia draft party.

The Bulldogs; 10 players picked tied them with Alabama for the most among any school in the country in this year’s draft while their 25 over the last two drafts, as well as their 34 over the last three, is tops in the nation. Overall, through seven seasons as the head coach at Georgia, Kirby Smart has seen 55 players get picked, more than Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, the only other active college coaches with multiple National Championships, through their first seven seasons at their current schools.

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