Cleveland Browns: Drafting Demetric Felton and Richard LeCounte raise questions
There are questions about the Cleveland Browns final picks. Is Richard LeCounte healthy and is Demetric Felton good enough?
Not everything was great about the 2021 NFL Draft, and in particular, the Cleveland Browns choices of Georgia Bulldogs safety Richard LeCounte in the fifth round,169th overall; and hybrid running back and wide receiver Demetric Felton from UCLA with the 211th overall pick in the sixth round raise some significant questions.
Like, why are they on the roster?
LeCounte had a great career at Georgia, but was injured in a dirt bike accident on Halloween 2020 and, though recovering, may not have regained his former speed. The concern is that he may not be his normal self. The Browns have elected to disbelieve the Pro Day results, and specifically the molasses-slow 40-yard dash time of 4.79 time.
To put this in perspective, there are glaciers in Alaska that move faster than 4.79. If that is the best time that LeCounte has in him, his career as a football player is probably over before it starts.
A healthy LeCounte is an All-American, and probably no worse than a third-round pick. Given the length of time that he has had to recover, however, it seems that there must be something significantly wrong.
On the other hand, if he has an injury that requires surgery, that is not the end of the world. Have the surgery, rehab, and come back later, even in 2022, and be better than ever. It’s a four-year deal. The team can afford to wait and get him right if that is what is needed.
Felton’s 40-yard dash time was also glacier-like, at 4.59 seconds. At 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds, he doesn’t have size or speed, and he did not put up huge numbers at UCLA. He had 2059 yards from scrimmage over a four-year career, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 9.7 yards per reception. He also returned 26 kickoffs for 611 yards, averaging 23.5 yards per return. That’s not bad, but it is not fantastic, either.
The Browns may feel obligated to hold a roster spot for him, while cutting players like D’Ernest Johnson and Ryan Switzer, who might be better returners. However, psychologically, players who are draft picks have special status and are kept even when they are not actually better players.
That is the danger of hanging onto too many day three draft picks. The team can wind up cutting good players in favor of mediocre players, sometimes.
If Felton is transitioned to a wide receiver, he would be pushing KhaDarel Hodge for a job except that Anthony Schwartz has probably got the inside track for that job already. Hodge has 4.39 speed, but Schwartz clocked 4.25 at his Pro Day and makes half as much money as Hodge, whose contract is not guaranteed.
Hodge may be waived at some point during summer camp. It doesn’t seem like there is a spot for Fenton on the 53-player roster, which means that the Browns may have to risk waiving him and then try to re-sign him to the practice squad.