Dawgs in the Draft: What you need to know about NFL draft prospect Richard LeCounte

A number of Georgia Bulldogs will hear their name called on draft night, as the 2021 NFL Draft is set to begin on April 29. In the run-up to the draft, DawgNation will profile each potential draftee as a part of our Dawgs in the Draft series. Today’s entry will focus on Richard LeCounte.

Richard LeCounte was Kirby Smart’s first commitment

Just days after Kirby Smart became the head coach at Georgia, Richard LeCounte had seen enough and knew he wanted to become a Bulldog and play for the former Georgia safety.

When LeCounte, a 5-star safety in the 2017 recruiting class, committed to Georgia on Dec. 13 2015, he became the first high school recruit to sign up for what Smart was building at Georgia. He was the first piece of the 2017 recruiting class that proved to be instrumental in elevating the Georgia program.

LeCounte went on to become a multi-year starter for Georgia at safety, emerging as one of the top defenders in the conference. He earned Preseason All-SEC honors prior to his senior season. In the first five games of the 2020 season, LeCounte picked up 26 tackles, three interceptions and four pass breakups.

Related: Richard LeCounte is a unique placesetter for the Kirby Smart era

Richard LeCounte’s senior season was shortened due to injury

Following Georgia’s 14-3 win over Kentucky, LeCounte was involved in a dirt bike accident that essentially ended his season. He would be named SEC Player of the Week for his performance against Kentucky, but that proved to be the last time Georgia fans saw LeCounte at 100 percent.

LeCounte sustained a number of injuries, including those to the foot and shoulder. Without its leader in the secondary, Georgia’s defense slipped a bit. In the first game without the senior safety, the Florida Gators scored 44 points and threw for 474 yards in a 44-28 win over Georgia.

“I don’t want to call it play-making ability because he always made plays,” Smart said about what Georgia missed the most about LeCounte “That’s the one thing about Richard [LeCounte], you cannot find a game that he did not have some crazy breakout in the middle or run down a reverse or just make an acrobatic interception.

“Just that moxie and play-making abilities is probably one of the biggest things and confidence.”

Still, LeCounte has plenty of tape to show NFL teams what kind of player he is. LeCounte came down with interceptions in each of the last two games he played against Alabama, intercepting both Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa.

With so much strong play built up over the course of his Georgia career, NFL draft expert Daniel Jeremiah firmly believes NFL teams will value that more than one poor pro-day workout.

“His tape is really good, and in talking to a bunch of teams that have all the GPS data, he plays like if you were going to do the equivalent, he plays like a 4.4 safety,” Jeremiah said on a conference call with reporters this week. “That’s how he plays on the field. He had the accident which we mentioned. I don’t think he’s fully recovered from that yet. Did not run well at his pro day, but most of the teams I’ve talked to are forgiving the workout and believing in what they saw in the player on tape. I still think he factors into that. Probably the fourth round will probably be where he ends up going.”

LeCounte is looking to be one of five members in Georgia’s 2020 secondary drafted in next week’s NFL draft, as Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel and Mark Webb are all likely to hear their names called.

Richard LeCounte: what you need to know about the 2021 NFL Draft prospect

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