With the 169th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Richard LeCounte III, safety from Georgia.
LeCounte is a three-year starter that came into the 2020 season with high hopes and played well in the first five games. Unfortunately, on Halloween night, LeCounte was driving a dirt bike without headlights and a car turning left onto the street couldn't see him and turned in front of him leading to a collision, which sent LeCounte and his bike to the other side of the street where a car coming from the other direction hit them a second time.
LeCounte tried to hurry back with his recovery and was able to take the field for the bowl game against Cincinnati for one play. Whether he suffered a setback or the injuries sustained in the accident continued to linger, LeCounte has only recently considered himself back to 100 percent.
Age: 22 (Born September 11, 1998)
Height: 5'10 1/2"
Weight: 196 lbs
Arm Length: 31 5/8"
40-yard dash: 4.79
Broad Jump: 128"
Vertical Jump: 32.5"
Bench Press: DNP
LeCounte's athletic profile based on his Pro Day is awful. He did do well in the broad jump, but much of this is being dismissed as a side effect of the accident with good reason. Per his conference call with the Cleveland media, LeCounte noted that a fracture in his foot had only recently fully healed.
2020 (Last Season)
Solo Tackles: 16 (4%)
Pass Deflections: 4 (11.4%)
Interceptions: 3 (33.3%)
All things considered, LeCounte's production for 2020 isn't bad, since he only played in five games. He stepped on the field for a snap in their bowl game, but that was the extent of it. Had he played in the other half of the season he missed due to the accident, his profile would likely be pretty good overall.
LeCounte played free safety for the Georgia Bulldogs defense, which could fluctuate between single high and two-high, but often ended up with him as the true deep safety. Occasionally, they'd split the field in half or have him cover in man with depth.
His in game speed and acceleration is excellent. He can get a head of steam quickly and he shows the ability to close and make up ground with little effort. That also enables him to showcase excellent range, both coming downhill to help against the run or making plays on the ball down the field.
His ball skills are a major selling point, both in how well he's able to play the ball when the opportunity arises as well as his ability to put himself in position to make plays. In his last 14 games, he intercepted seven passes.
LeCounte is at his best when he's operating as the last level of defense and can run up and help in coverage or police the middle of the field. He shows the ability to cover in man, but he's inconsistent and there are times where he will get exploited.
LeCounte has the ability to help in run defense and is fast enough to come from depth and still make contact in the backfield. The problem is he's often out of control and has trouble adjusting on the fly. So there are points where he will make highlight plays, but he misses more than he makes.
His angles in pursuit are poor as well and often ends up out of position, be it from behind, the side or coming downhill. LeCounte needs to do far better hitting his landmarks and tracking the ball carrier in the proper location.
Tackling for is a roll of the dice for LeCounte as well. There are times when he's fantastic and makes stops all over the field that look great, but playing out of control once again leads to issues. He'll end up diving, throwing himself at opponents and and just whiffing entirely.
Fit, Usage and Projection
For the Browns, LeCounte projects to being a deep safety since the Browns don't really differentiate too much between strong and free. He fits well as a deep zone safety that has limited if any man responsibilities at this point.
Assuming he's 100 percent healthy, his roster spot is not guaranteed. He will have to earn it. Should there still be a health issue, it wouldn't be a massive surprise if he ended up on the Non-Football Injury list as they try to plan how they want to proceed with him.
LeCounte will need to contribute on special teams. Unfortunately, he has limited experience in that realm and while his speed is certainly attractive, his struggles playing under control are just as problematic there.
Impacted by the Pro Day, which is terrible and not instructive to his true ability as well as his production, which is limited due to the accident, he profiles as a backup, fringe type player. The Browns clearly hope he can do more than that. He has a few traits that make it easy to understand why team would like him, including his ball skills and range, but unless he can iron out at least a few of the issues he had in college, it's going to be difficult to find a place for him on the field or on the roster.