How does Georgia safety Richard Lecounte III match up as an NFL Draft prospect in an uncertain safety class? Lecounte has the pedigree and the physicality, but what is his ceiling? Here’s a look at Lecounte’s profile. He’s made a name for himself as one of the SEC’s top defensive playmakers. Yet, there’s more to his NFL projection than this alone.
Richard Lecounte III NFL Draft Profile
- Height: 5’10 1/2″
- Weight: 196 pounds
- Position: Safety
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Senior
Tony Pauline’s Richard Lecounte Scouting Report
Positives: Well-built safety who is effective covering the pass and defending the run. Quick diagnosing the action, displays range in center field, and takes good angles to the play. Works well with cornerbacks to bracket receivers over the middle of the field, quickly gets to the flanks, and possesses solid ball skills.
Stays on the receiver’s hip in man coverage and possesses a nice move to the throw. Fires up the field and gives effort against the run, driving his shoulders through ball handlers. Efficient, creates turnovers, and shows good hands for the interception.
Negatives: Lacks great next-level play speed. Not a stout tackler and has ball carriers running through his arms.
Analysis: LeCounte was a consistent defender at Georgia the past three seasons and has enough skill to line up as a nickel safety/special teams player in the NFL.
Richard Lecounte Player Profile
Lecounte’s playmaking ability has separated him for a long time. In high school, Lecounte was one of the nation’s highest-rated prospects. Coming out of Liberty County High School in Hinesville, Georgia, Lecounte was a bonafide five-star recruit. Lecounte was the No. 2 safety in his class, behind future top-five draft pick Jeffrey Okudah. He was also the No. 12 overall player on the 2017 recruiting board.
Lecounte validated his billing with impressive athletic testing numbers, putting up a 4.01 short-shuttle time and a 36.5-inch vertical. It comes as no surprise that several high-visibility programs heavily pursued him. Alabama, Clemson, Florida, and LSU all submitted offers to the dynamic safety prospect. However, Lecounte instead decided to stay in-state and suit up with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Richard Lecounte’s career as a Georgia safety
Lecounte enrolled early with the Bulldogs, intent on kick-starting his college football career. However, it took time for Lecounte to earn a consistent role. Lecounte played in ten games in his true freshman season, amassing just 15 total tackles.
Lecounte saw an increase in playing time in his second season. He started 13 of 14 games, logging 74 total tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in the process. The Georgia safety had a strong sophomore season. However, his leap in his junior year would be even more dramatic.
The final two seasons of Lecounte’s collegiate career
In 2019, Lecounte broke out as one of the SEC’s top playmakers on defense. The Georgia safety accounted for 61 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. Lecounte had a case to declare after his junior season, but he chose to stay in school and keep honing his craft.
In 2020, Lecounte’s rate of production increased even further. The fourth-year senior put up 26 total tackles, one tackle for loss, three interceptions, and four pass deflections in just five games, compared to 14 games in each of his last two seasons. Lecounte missed four games due to injury — he was involved in a traffic accident. However, he still managed to provide enough of an impact to be recognized as a first-team All-SEC selection.
On January 6, Lecounte officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing Richard Lecounte’s NFL Draft profile
In recent years, instincts have become more important in safety evaluation. Athleticism still matters. However, players can lack a few top-end traits and still provide playmaking ability and versatility with instincts. Richard Lecounte is far from an elite athlete, but he has some of the best instincts in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lecounte always plays fast, and he can play from many different alignments. At Georgia, he was seen lining up at single-high, two-deep, and in the slot. From these positions, Lecounte has the awareness to follow the play with his eyes, and he’s measured with his aggression.
He pulls the trigger with decisiveness when coming downfield, but he’s also patient. He doesn’t sweep himself out of a play by committing too early to a tackling lane.
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Operationally, Lecounte also has good tackling form for his size. Against both the run and the pass, Lecounte takes good angles to the ball carrier, and he’s able to navigate through congestion to make clean tackles. His physicality also extends to the passing game, where Lecounte is fairly active at the catch point.
He had a few excellent reps against Florida TE Kyle Pitts in 2019. Bigger targets don’t scare Lecounte, and he has enough explosiveness and fluidity to line up in man coverage.
What are the issues with Lecounte?
Lecounte’s athletic profile is the main source of scrutiny for his overall draft evaluation, as referenced earlier. Lecounte is noticeably undersized for his height. He’s just 196 pounds with average length.
Although he has sturdy tackling form, his frame limits his reach and play strength in pursuit situations. Lecounte has solid range, but once he reaches the epicenter of the play, he doesn’t always have the size to make something happen.
Furthermore, Lecounte’s testing numbers were even worse than expected. At his underwhelming size, Lecounte put up a 4.79 40-yard dash, a 32.5-inch vertical jump, and very poor agility numbers. He did have an uncharacteristically stellar 128-inch broad jump, but aside from that, his athletic profile was one of the worst in his class. Overall, he registered a Relative Athletic Score of 0.63.
With Lecounte still needing to add pounds to his frame, there’s a chance that speed could be sapped even more. That’s a risk that might completely exhaust any starting upside.
What’s the verdict on Richard Lecounte?
Aside from his athletic profile — which is not good — Lecounte is a solid player. The Georgia safety is tough, instinctive, and versatile, and he’s a high-energy player who brings 100% effort on every play. He also displayed a baseline level of ability in various roles in college. However, Lecounte’s size limits his ability to take on blockers in run defense, and his deep range might also be slightly limited at the NFL level.
For these reasons, I think Lecounte projects best as a strong safety who plays in Cover 2 often, with some snaps in the box. There, his short-range explosiveness will be more impactful, as he won’t have to cover as much ground on average. He’ll also be able to line up in the slot against tight ends, where his physicality and lateral agility should be able to shine.
It’ll be hard for him to earn a starting opportunity with his speed, but Lecounte has ample security built in to his draft profile, and if he can pack on more weight without losing his burst, he could beat the odds and become a contributor.
Richard Lecounte’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
In an odd 2021 safety class, Richard Lecounte’s high-floor projection may be coveted on mid-to-late Day 3. The question simply comes down to how restricted his role will be at the NFL level. Truthfully, there isn’t much he can’t do at a serviceable level on tape. But can he do these things effectively in the NFL, where receivers are bigger and faster on average?
Schematic alignment and team fits
Yes, Lecounte can play single-high in the middle of the field. But I wouldn’t want him there in the NFL. Can he be an enforcer in the box against the run? Yes, but if blockers get to him quickly, he could be neutralized with ease. Playing in two-high alignments, Lecounte can read the field and build up speed without being left on an island.
Luckily for Lecounte, Cover 2 is fairly common, and plenty of teams also move safeties into the slot situationally. Before his testing, Lecounte was being discussed as a potential mid-round pick. However, his numbers could make him borderline draftable. Nevertheless, in a role that emphasizes his instincts and slot/safety versatility, Lecounte could be decent in a pinch.
Teams like the Broncos, Dolphins, Raiders, Titans, and Rams project as good fits, but other teams may also be inclined to add Lecounte’s skill set to their defensive nucleus. Additionally, his special teams upside makes him a good late-round candidate.
Richard Lecounte is one of the more enjoyable watches in the 2021 NFL Draft. Again, his athletic traits aren’t at the highest echelon. Nevertheless, he has more than enough juice to get around, and his ability to see the field and adapt in real-time is impressive. Lecounte has a future in the NFL. It’s just a matter of where and what it entails.
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