The Pittsburgh Steelers selected George cornerback Kelee Ringo in a mock 2023 NFL Draft by Matt Miller of ESPN on Tuesday. Miller had the Steelers selecting at No. 6 overall, based on their projected 7-10 record via ESPN’s FPI.
Ringo is an underclassman, so there is no guarantee he will be in the draft pool when the Steelers actually make their pick next April, but there is good reason for the hype for the 6-foot-2, 205-pound cornerback from Tacoma, Washington.
The top-ranked corner in his recruiting class, Ringo missed the 2020 season after a labrum injury, but he started from Week 1 in 2021 and never looked back, helping the Bulldogs defense win a National Championship.
Ringo finished 2021 with 26 tackles, one for a loss, one sack, two interceptions and eight passes defended. He returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown to seal Georgia’s national title game win against Alabama.
With Pittsburgh, Ringo would help secure a cornerback position that has not seen substantial investment from the club in several years. The Steelers let starting cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Joe Haden walk in consecutive offseason, and will utilize Cam Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace in 2022, but none of those players received significant contracts in terms of length or salary.
“With rookie first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett on the roster, the Steelers could look to improve in other places,” Miller wrote. “If the 6-foot-2 corner can make plays without 10 future NFL starters around him, his coverage ability and physical traits will put him in the running for CB1 in this class.”
Miller had Ringo as the second cornerback taken, following Alabama’s Eli Ricks, who went at No. 4 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Steelers haven’t drafted a cornerback with their first-round pick since missing with Artie Burns in 2016. Since then, the club has utilized a series of free agents to help man the position.