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Getting to know Drake London - Draft Profiles and Articles

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By Lance Zierlein
NFL Analyst
Draft Projection
Round 1
NFL Comparison
Ed McCaffrey
Big, long possession receiver with the ability to play outside or from the slot. London lacks desired top-end speed and separation quickness to open clear throwing windows but plays a mature, savvy brand of ball. The game slows down for him when the ball comes out. London was a top-flight basketball player so angles to the ball, body positioning and high-pointing come very naturally to him, turning a 50-50 ball into a 70-30 advantage. While he has the size and skill to dominate the catch phase, his one-speed route-running and lack of separation burst means a career full of contested catches. London's pro career would benefit from playing with a diverse receiving corps that allows play-callers to play to London's strengths.
  • Elite size and length offers mismatch potential.
  • Workmanlike with a pro demeanor.
  • Extensive experience as outside and slot target.
  • Thrashes through inside leverage for in-breaking routes underneath.
  • Feel for moving the coverage with downfield routes.
  • Manufactures space with tight angles out of route cuts.
  • Takes control of the catch space on all three levels.
  • Uses strength to create ample space for bucket throws near the boundary.
  • Finds deep ball quickly and alters positioning for optimal tracking.
  • Works back to the ball using block-out angles on defenders.
  • Meets contested throws with arm extension and strong hands.
  • Aerial specialist with impressive leap timing and catch radius.
  • Lacks desired foot quickness out of release.
  • Will live with route squatters crowding him underneath.
  • Trouble eluding route redirections in space.
  • Slow-developing downfield routes require plus pass protection.
  • Will struggle to find desired separation from breaks and turns versus man.
  • Runs and moves like an athletic tight end.
  • Below-average toughness as run blocker.
  • Not a get-away guy in run after catch.
Sources Tell Us

"I think he is going to test better than people think but I doubt he runs. I don't care how fast he is, I wouldn't be against him because his ball skills are really special." -- Area scout for AFC team
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Drake London Scouting Report

Despite protestations to the contrary, the 2022 NFL Draft wide receiver class boasts not only top-end talent but impressive depth throughout the three days of the NFL’s annual selection event. One player right at the very top of that class is USC’s London. Although serious injury hampered the unique pass catcher’s final season, we saw enough to conduct a scouting report that showcases game-changing potential.

At present, London is the 15th overall player on the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board. Furthermore, he’s the second-ranked wide receiver behind Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson. But what is it that makes London such a tantalizing NFL Draft prospect?

Let’s start London’s scouting report with his most obvious attribute — size. Although he measured smaller at the NFL Combine than his USC-listed 6’5″, you don’t have to look hard to find London amongst his teammates on tape. As you’d expect from someone of his size, he excels in jump-ball situations. A former basketball player, London’s adept at getting above the rim to secure the ball in unlikely spots.

While his height undoubtedly helps in this regard, there are other factors at play. With 33″ arms, London has long levers which enable him to pluck the ball effortlessly out of the sky. Once safely in his hands, the USC WR does a great job of securing the ball to his body. As a result, he’s able to maintain possession even through contact in traffic over the middle of the field.

Tools of the pass-catching trade

During his USC career, the impressive WR prospect has also demonstrated great ball-tracking ability. With the body control to be able to adjust and reel in balls you might consider uncatchable, London is in possession of almost all of the tools that you require to be successful at the NFL level.

London is physical in contested-catch situations. However, that isn’t the limit of the physicality in his game. The USC WR also shows this physicality as a willing and able blocker in the run game. Additionally, he is challenging to bring down in the open field, exhibiting competitive toughness to carry multiple players on his back.

London was lauded for his athletic ability in high school, and this is one of the more surprising elements of his game. He flashes an unexpected change-of-direction ability for someone so tall. London has quick feet enabling excellent lateral agility, making cuts with ease and often leaving defenders clutching at air. He uses this to pose an after-the-catch threat. Don’t be fooled into thinking the USC WR is purely a jump-ball specialist.

Finally, the USC WR presents an incredible understanding of the game. London possesses an insane ability to find gaps in coverage, allowing him to create space. When the play breaks down, he puts himself in a position for the quarterback to locate him. Having been used predominantly in the slot prior to this season, London has added outside experience to his résumé, making him a well-round 2022 NFL Draft prospect.

Areas for improvement

While London has an impressive scouting report and should be considered one of the top pass catchers in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are still some areas for concern with regard to his NFL projection. Although I believe he has the skills to be considered a true WR1 at the next level, there will be some elements of his scouting report that limit his stock.

An unfortunate by-product of his size, London tends to play with a high pad level. That hasn’t necessarily been an issue at the college level, helped somewhat by his usage at USC. However, if he continues to play with a high pad level at the NFL level he will leave himself open to attack in press coverage.

For all his athletic gifts, the USC WR isn’t blessed with long speed. London does his best work on short and intermediate routes, using his after-catch ability and physicality to add extra yards. He won’t separate downfield based on speed alone. That said, his ability to win contested catches at a high rate should negate some of those concerns.

London is expected to make a full recovery from his 2021 injury. However, with little evidence to support that expectation, teams may prove a little wary. He didn’t test at the NFL Combine or the USC Pro Day. A planned individual workout then got postponed. It’s understandable that London would want to ensure he’s at full fitness, but the continual inability to test might raise significant question marks.

London’s Player Profile

An exciting multi-sport athlete for Moorpark High School in California, London possessed the height and athletic profile to succeed on the basketball court and the football field. During his senior season, he was named to the All-CIF Division 4 and LA Times All-Area teams due to his basketball performances. When it came to college recruiting, the option to play both sports at the next level was an enticing proposition.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves a little. For all his ability on the basketball court, London excelled on the football field for Moorpark. As a junior, he racked up an impressive 1,032 receiving yards on 51 receptions, averaging 20.2 yards per catch. He also snagged 11 touchdowns while demonstrating his versatility and athletic prowess with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Although not famed for his long speed, London took 5 carries for 123 yards.

London’s junior season cements recruiting ranking

Those performances earned him third-team Cal-Hi Sports All-State Juniors honors, in addition to being named to the All-CIF Division 5 team. They also solidified London as a four-star prospect and the 35th-ranked wide receiver in the 2019 recruiting class. His 20 offers had a heavy Pac-12 influence but contained scholarship opportunities from all the Power Five conferences.

Despite interest from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa State, and Oregon, there was only one destination for the California kid. London committed to USC before his senior season at Moorpark. Another impressive campaign saw him secure 1,089 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he accumulated a litany of accolades, including being named the All-Camino League Co-Wide Receiver of the Year and a Prepstar All-American.

London’s career at USC

Despite arriving into a locker room full of future NFL wide receivers, London made his presence felt as a true freshman. In early September, he secured his first receptions, taking 3 catches for 62 yards against Stanford. However, he wouldn’t emerge as a dangerous receiving threat until later in the season.

London notched a touchdown in each of the final five games of the 2019 season. Amongst those scores were two exceptional performances that showcased how he could dominate a game. The USC WR was named the Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Week after securing 111 yards and a touchdown on just 6 receptions. London finished his freshman campaign with 39 receptions for 567 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.5 yards per catch.

Not content with a one-sport relationship, he played basketball in the winter for the Trojans. After a disrupted summer and the uncertainty of whether the Pac-12 would play at all, the USC WR helped USC overcome a near-defeat to Arizona State with a game-winning touchdown grab in the fourth quarter. The score came as part of another 8-catch performance, racking up 125 yards in the process.

In just six games in 2020, London tallied 502 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 15.2 yards per catch. Although Amon-Ra St. Brown led the team in receptions and touchdowns, London led all USC pass catchers in receiving yards.

London’s NFL Draft ascension

With St. Brown headed to the NFL, London had the opportunity to lead the USC WR room and establish himself as a star in the 2022 NFL Draft class. His campaign got off to an exceptional start, with 12 receptions and 137 receiving yards in the season-opening win over San Jose State. It was just the beginning of an incredible run of form.

Between the Washington State game in Week 3 and a late October clash with Notre Dame, London reeled in over 100 yards in five consecutive games. That run included a career-high 171 receiving yards in a defeat to the Fighting Irish. Heading into a late October game against Arizona, the freakish WR was set to break USC single-season records.

However, the Arizona game would bring to an end London’s incredible junior season, as he was lost for the year after suffering a broken ankle. Despite missing four games, London ended the season with 1,084 yards and 7 touchdowns, earning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. As expected, he declared for the 2022 NFL Draft at the conclusion of the season.

Although he has yet to be able to test, London is still earning first-round attention in the 2022 NFL Draft. The fact that he’s been forced to push back his pro day performance may be unsettling for NFL teams. However, as his scouting report attests, London is a game-changing playmaker who has the ability to add value to an offense in multiple ways.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Drake London

Positives: Tall, game-controlling receiver with dependable hands. Has a smooth and fluid style, uses his frame to shield away defenders, and consistently comes away with the contested grab. Uses his hands to separate from defenders, sells routes, and quickly gets into breaks. Extends to snatch the ball out of the air and possesses soft, natural pass-catching hands.

Tracks the pass in the air, gets vertical, and high-points the ball over defenders. Plays with balance as well as body control, possesses outstanding eye/hand coordination, and makes the reception in stride. Smart, knows where he is on the field, and plays like a good athlete. Possesses a sense of timing, comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, and gives effort after the catch. Stout, wins out in a crowd, and is tough to bring down after the reception.

Negatives: Had a limited route tree at USC. Shows average quickness in his overall game. Lacks a burst and deep speed.

Analysis: London was a terrific receiver for USC the past three seasons and is a natural pass catcher who projects well to the next level. He’s more advanced than most big-bodied college wideouts who rely on size and strength to win out for contested throws. London is fluid and very smooth. I still believe he would struggle in a timing offense or a scheme that asks receivers to separate through routes. Still, London can be a Day 1 starter on Sundays in the proper offensive system.

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Drake London is a former multi-sport standout who has also competed on the USC basketball team, and that skill set has certainly transferred over to the field. He is an excellent athlete with regards to jumping ability, body control, and agility for a big receiver. In the run game, he has the potential to be a dominant run blocker due to his toughness, length, and competitive spirit. He is surprisingly very good as a runner after the catch. In the passing game, he is excellent. He has outstanding body control and agility as a route-runner and uses his bigger frame to “big boy” smaller receivers. He is excellent in contested-catch situations and uses his strong hands to secure the football in traffic. His separation ability at the top of the route is sufficient but bigger receivers should be assessed differently than shorter, more agile ones. He is a downfield threat in the passing game and even if the corner is in phase, London will likely win the contested-catch situation. While he has played outside, playing this receiver as a big slot or off the ball at Z could free him to maximize his outstanding physical ability. 

Ideal Role: Starting Outside WR

Scheme Fit: Vertical passing offense


Written by Drae Harris

Route Running: He uses some creativity and nuance when running routes. While he won’t have elite separation quickness at the top of the route because he is a high-cut player, he is creative enough to get separation on intermediate routes. He also uses his body to out-physical smaller defenders and create separation.

Hands: He has strong hands to secure the football in contested-catch situations. He also does an excellent job contorting his body to catch off-target throws. He also displays a good ability to track the deep ball and secure the catch. 

Separation: On the surface, you may not think he is a good separator due to his big frame. However, bigger receivers should be judged on a different platform than smaller ones. He can separate at the top of the route and has good speed to win vertically as well.  

Release: He has improved his release in 2021. He has shown the ability to beat press with upper-body strength. He also has the foot quickness to get vertical and stack a defender.

Run After Catch: He is surprisingly good running after the catch. For a bigger receiver, he is elusive and can get positive yardage. Because he’s also a bigger-bodied guy, he is difficult for smaller defenders to tackle.

Ball Skills: He has outstanding ball skills. He has an uncanny ability to track the deep ball. He also has an outstanding catch radius and jumping ability. So even off targeted throws he can clean up and make the QB look good. 

Football IQ: His football IQ is good. He knows how to adjust his route to get to the sticks in situational football. When he is underneath, he is cognizant of coverage and knows how to “sit his route down.”

Versatility: He brings some versatility to the position. He has aligned both outside and in the slot. While he has improved his releases off the line in 2021, his skill set also suggests that he would work well off the ball. 

Competitive Toughness: London plays with competitive toughness. He catches 6 routes when contact is imminent. He will run block and is tough to get down when he has the ball in his hands. 

Big Play Ability: He is a big-play threat whenever his number is called. He has the speed to beat you vertically and he will likely win the contested catch. He’s a surprisingly dangerous runner with the ball in his hands, as well.

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Drake London was a dual-sport athlete in high school and was named to the All-CIF Division 4 and LA Times All-Area teams for his impressive basketball performances. Despite this accolade, it was obvious London was more gifted on the gridiron than on the court and was thus rated a four-star prospect and the 35th-ranked wide receiver in the 2019 recruiting class. USC heavily recruited London and it was an easy choice for this California native

London made a quick impact and put up 567 yards and 5 TDs as a freshman and this was followed by a 502-yard performance in just six games as a sophomore. Heading into the 2021 season it was expected that London would get his first full season to showcase his skills -- and he didn't disappoint - he dominated, putting up a record-setting 1084 YDs in only eight games before having his season cut short by an injury on Halloween.
  • Totally dominated in college in 2021 he looked like a man amongst boys - almost unstoppable at times. Finished his college career with a total QB rating when targetted of 115.0
  • Often used on deep routes, getting separation down the sideline or over the middle on crossing routes by extending his arms rather than pure speed.
  • Has incredible length and giant wingspan enables him to come down with pretty much every 50/50 ball thrown his way. Led all college football in contested catches
  • Quarterback's best friend - passers just need to toss the ball in his area and he'll come down with it.
  • In the run game, he is a strong and tough blocker and can easily chip a blitzing linebacker on the way to a receiving route
  • Has enough upper-body strength and tenacity to be very effective as a downfield blocker. Is not shy about taking on his man, provides some pop, and will open a running lane for his back at the next level.
  • Good effort and technique as a blocker for his size. Can beat the press with elusiveness or physical contact. Runs crisp routes with sharp cuts.
  • Strong runner with the ball with enough agility to make defenders miss in the open field.
  • Has decent, not great long speed but is top-notch going up to get a contented deep ball and regularly beets double coverage
  • Great mind more the game - has an amazing ability to find gaps in coverages
  • Comes off the snap high and upright, and doesn't get to top speed quickly. Not sudden or elusive.
  • Never creates a lot of separation and lacks the change of direction skills and acceleration. Leading in contested catches may not be a good thing - demonstrates he's rarely wide open
  • Not very quick off the line of scrimmage although this is more a function of his size
  • Hasn't had much experience out wide - played almost all of his snaps from the slot
  • Decided to not work out at the combine which cast concerns of his timed speed
London has had a totally dominating 2021 season where he showcased his immense talent. We regard him as the best possession receiver in the 2022 Draft - but to put him in the possession bracket is underselling his skills.
He uses his height to outjump and outmuscle corners and despite not having elite speed he can still outmuscle corners to make an impact as a deep threat. What's made his 2021 season even more impressive is that he has constantly faced double coverage but still put up record numbers.
London doesn't come without issues, however, as he isn't explosive and has had a problem separating in the PAC-10. If it's been an issue there it could be a major one in the NFL - limiting his effectiveness to a possesion/redzone threat.

To us Drake London looks a lot like a taller version of Keenan Allen, and it wouldn't surprise us if he has a similarly productive NFL career. He should be selected in the first half of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft who will likely start as a rookie and potentially develop into an excellent pro.
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A well-rounded receiver prospect, Drake London has a rare combination of size, movement skills, hands, technique and run after catch ability. He should start immediately in the NFL and has high-level upside if he can fine-tune certain nuances in his game.


Natural catcher of the ball. Tough runner after the catch and runs with an edge to him. Possesses good body control and a large catch radius to haul in passes in his relative area. Excellent concentration in traffic and over the middle of the field to keep his eye on the ball throughout the catch process. He is aware of where the space is in the defense to attack the holes. Sudden footwork at the top of his routes to keep defenders a step or two off of him. Can operate at all levels of the field. Great sideline awareness to understand where is on the field at all times, secure the catch and get his feet in bounds consistently. Slippery with the ball in his hands. Very smooth and technical in his process to create separation in that way. He displays great effort and willpower to put his body on the line in order to make some catches. Has the experience lining up in the slot and out wide. Effort and willingness are there when blocking. 


Not overly creative or dynamic as a route runner to earn separation. Lacks urgency from his release packages. He isn’t fast in terms of pure foot speed to beat most defenders one-on-one down the field. His functional strength will be tested at the next level, especially when is matched up in press coverage. He is definitely a liability when it comes to run blocking, USC’s offense usually stayed away from his side of the field when running the ball. Lacked the overall strength and technique to complete blocks through the whistle. 


Drake London is an experienced underclassmen starter for the USC Trojans who has seen starter reps since arriving as a freshman. He originally spent most of his time in the slot before moving to a wider role this season. London is an extremely natural athlete who can be described as a pure playmaker. He is extremely well-rounded at the catch point, being able to make his body bigger and haul in impressive catches. Body control is out of this world. Extending plays after the catch comes naturally as well with his powerful, downhill running style to fight for extra yards. There is still some development to grow into with the nuances of his release packages, route running and blocking ability. Drake London is a premier player in this class if he recovers smoothly from the recently suffered ankle injury. 


Born on July 24th, 2001, Drake London grew up in his hometown of Moorpark, California. At Moorpark High School, the Trojan star was a standout athlete. As a junior, London was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Juniors third team and the Los Angeles Daily News All-Area second team. He also made All-CIF Division 5. After his senior season, London was named 2018 PrepStar All-American, All-CIF Division 3 and All-Camino League Co-Wide Receiver of the Year. Further, he made the Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Cal-Hi Sports All-State third team and Los Angeles Daily News All-Area first team. In addition to his work as a football star, London had an impressive basketball career at Moorpark High School. In his junior season, London averaged 19.8 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game and 3.9 assists per game. As a senior, he averaged 29.2 points per game, 11.9 rebounds per game and 3.8 assists per game. He was named All-CIF Division 4 and Los Angeles Times All-Area. After his stellar high school career, 247Sports Composite Rankings listed London as a four-star recruit, the 247th-overall player in his class, the 35th-best receiver in his year and the 33rd-ranked recruit in the state of California. Additionally, 247Sports listed the athlete as a 3-star basketball recruit, the 189th-overall recruit in his class, the 30th-best shooting guard in his year and the 16th-ranked recruit in the state of California. London was an immediate impact player for the Trojans’ football team. As a freshman, he was named to the 2019 Pro Football Focus Freshman All-American third team. After the 2019 season, the star receiver joined USC’s basketball team. He did not score and averaged 1.0 rebound per game through three games. Despite a lackluster basketball season marred by illness, London continued his stellar football career in 2020. The talented sophomore pass-catcher was named to the 2020 All-Pac-12 second team, AP All-Pac-12 second team, Pro Football Focus All-Pac-12 first team and Phil Steele All-Pac-12 first team. In December of 2020, London left the USC basketball team and decided to focus on football. He is a Communication major in USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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Drake London has a high-level basketball background, and he translates that skill set to the football field in the best way possible. London’s 6-foot-4, 219-pound frame gives him a size advantage in most matchups, and he complements that with spectacular leaping ability and body control. His catch radius is exceptional.

London did not run at the NFL Combine, but his tape shows that he’s got good deep speed, although it takes him a bit to build up to it. He does not look shot out of a cannon at the snap. His lateral agility is good for a player his size, and he uses it effectively with the ball in his hands or to beat press coverage.

Despite his long frame, London proved to be an effective screen and jet-sweep receiver. His combination of contact balance, running power and nimble footwork make him very difficult to bring down after the catch. London was on his way towards a massive 2021 season, catching 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in just eight games. A fractured right ankle ended his season early, and teams are sure to take that injury into account while evaluating him.

The combination of size, athleticism and competitive toughness makes London a very promising prospect at receiver. He should help a team from Day 1 and possesses the upside to become a top-10 player at the position.


Speed: 5

London was used as a deep threat for USC, but he builds to his top speed gradually. Has enough speed to be effective downfield. Won’t break away from defenders in a footrace.

Agility: 6

Shows excellent looseness in his hips for his size. Can break off routes quickly to gain separation from defenders. Side-steps opponents with the ball in his hands and can string multiple juke moves together.

Catch Ability: 8

London had his share of drops at USC, but this grade is indicative of his special ball skills and immense catch radius. If the ball is anywhere in his vicinity, London can come down with it, as evidenced by his nation-leading 19 contested catches in 2021. He will be a major threat for defenses in the red zone or on third downs.

Route Running: 6

Ran a variety of routes in college and did so well. He’s able to line up all over the field and is a threat when given a two-way go. Shows nice feel for spots in zone and exploits space in the defense when a play is extended.

Size: 8

Elite size at the position; compares favorably to Mike Evans. Weighed 219 at the NFL Combine, answering some questions about how much he fills out his frame. London uses his size to his advantage in virtually every facet of the game to good success.

Release: 6

London’s size is a great advantage to him in this aspect of the game. He has impressive hand usage and quickness to fight against press coverage. Can win with foot quickness. Doesn’t always drive through a defender on slants and quick in routes.

Explosiveness: 7

Incredibly explosive leaper, which comes from his basketball background. He will continue to win jump contests at the NFL level, and London displays a natural sense for timing his jumps. Not an explosive runner, and he does not have great immediate speed.

Yards After Catch: 8

Shows excellent balance through contact and routinely breaks tackles with the ball in his hands. Flashes of George Kittle in his combination of power and agility as a runner. He forced 22 missed tackles in 2021, according to PFF, which were eighth-most.

Production: 7

Was on pace for 132 catches, 1,626 yards and 10 touchdowns prior to his ankle injury in 2021. Never had more than 600 yards or five touchdowns in a season before breaking out as a junior. London’s production in 2021 was spectacular in just eight games.

Blocking: 8

An absolute beast as a blocker. Relishes the opportunity to lock onto opponents, regardless of size. He is an asset close to the line of scrimmage on short-yardage plays because of his blocking ability.

Athleticism: N/A RAS, 17/20

This is just an estimation since London did not run at the NFL Combine and elected to only do position drills at his Pro Day, but it’s a relatively conservative estimation. London’s basketball background will translate well to the NFL.

SCORE: 86 | GRADE: 1 (Early 1st-round pick)

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Time will tell if Drake London was the right pick at No. 8 for the Atlanta Falcons. London offers truly intriguing size and after the catch ability and looks like a terrific fit with this offense, but with the massive run on receivers in the first round the team is betting on him being the best player at the position in this entire class. He’ll have to be that guy or close to it for the team’s faith to be rewarded, and we won’t know whether London is that guy for a while now.

What we do know is that the Falcons considered him the best player available and were psyched to get him, and that they waved away what Terry Fontenot considered unserious offers for the No. 8 pick. In late night comments to reporters, Arthur Smith and Fontenot gave us more context for the decision.

First off, unsurprisingly, London’s physicality clearly stood out for the Falcons. Arthur Smith has gravitated toward tall receivers who block well and pick up yards after the catch, and the Falcons have been trying to build toward an offense where everyone can move around the formation and be effective. London checked off several boxes there, per Fontenot and Smith.

The Falcons did get offers for No. 8, and I expected if they got great ones they’d consider moving down and settling for another player. We’ll likely never know what those offers are, but we do know that Fontenot did not consider them compelling enough to lose out on London.

One thing we discussed more than once on the live show last night was the fact that the Falcons selection of London kicked off a massive run on receivers. In total, six went in the first round, all of them between picks No. 8 and No. 18, and two more high-end receivers were traded. The Titans moved A.J. Brown to the Eagles and the Ravens traded Hollywood Brown to the Cardinals, and receivers went No. 8, No. 10, No. 11, No. 12, No. 16 and No. 18. Clearly, the Falcons felt that run validated their selection of London and confirmed that they could not have traded down and gotten their man, and while the former has to be proved out the latter certainly seems true.

Finally, we can agree on one thing: Maybe Drake London shouldn’t be in charge of nicknames for this football team. At least he’s awfully excited to be here.

We’ll have plenty of time to get to know London and see him work in this Falcons offense, and every single one of us is hoping that he’ll prove to be worth the No. 8 selection and then some. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the knowledge that London is a talented player landing on a team that values him and seems to be a good fit for his skill set, even if receiver was not the most popular position of need for a team with a lot of work to do on the roster. When we talk about the selection in 5-10 years, may it be in glowing terms.

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I guess the real question is: What does he look like when running into Olamide Zaccheaus over the middle while all running to the same spot for the ball? As good as Gage when he leapt over #17? Or will Drake look more like Ridley and just collapse into the turf?

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Falcons draft Drake London: Arthur Smith gets the big-bodied wide receiver he covets

Head coach Arthur Smith has coveted a big-bodied wide receiver since arriving in Atlanta, and the Falcons’ need at the position got that much bigger when Calvin Ridley was suspended by the NFL for at least the 2022 season for gambling on NFL games. Viewed through that lens, the pick of Drake London makes sense for the Falcons. But the 6-foot-4, 219-pound London wasn’t considered the No. 1 wide receiver available in this draft by many analysts.

Draft grades: Sheil Kapadia weighs in on the picks

Big board best available: Who’s left from Dane Brugler’s Top 300?

Big board ranking: Brugler ranked London No. 15 on his big board, which makes the pick a statistical reach for Atlanta. That reach looks particularly long considering Brugler had Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson and Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams ranked higher.

Introduction: London didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine or his pro day because he still was recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the Trojans’ eighth game of last season, but his athleticism is unquestioned. He played one year of basketball at USC.

London said he didn’t run the 40 at his pro day because he had only been running full speed for four days at that time.

“I’m not going to go out there and run a 40 without any training,” he said. “I feel like I proved what I needed to prove.”

How he fits: Atlanta’s wide receiver depth chart on Thursday afternoon had 5-8, 193-pound Olamide Zaccheaus, 5-9, 175-pound Damiere Byrd and 6-5, 228-pound Auden Tate at the top, so London fits in pretty well. The seven receivers on the Falcons’ roster before the London pick combined for 74 catches, 945 yards and five touchdowns last year. London had 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns last season at USC. In eight games.

Second guess? The obvious thought here is, “Why no pass rusher?” Atlanta was last in the NFL last season with 18 sacks. The No. 31 team in the league had 29 sacks. The Falcons desperately need edge rushers, and Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson was still on the board at the No. 8 pick. Johnson was ranked 11th on Brugler’s Big Board.

Rookie impact: London should immediately become Atlanta’s No. 1 wide receiver, even if he wouldn’t say that when he met with Atlanta-based media members briefly Thursday night.

“Whatever coach wants me to do, I’m going to do it,” he said. “I have to get there first to tell you what kind of role I’m going to be in. I have to earn those stripes. I’m not looking for any handouts given to me.”

Depth-chart impact: London pronounced himself fully healthy on Thursday night but said his conditioning still needs some work. There’s plenty of time for that before the fall so expect him to be a Day 1 starter and on the field a lot.

The prospect of the 6-4 London and 6-4 Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts on the field in the red zone should be enticing to Atlanta fans who watched their team finish 24th in the NFL in 2021 in red zone touchdown percentage (53.7).

“I do have the size and I feel like that twin towers thing, me and Kyle, could be something special,” London said.

Fast evaluation: “I’m somebody who goes up and gets the ball whether he’s covered or not. I think (the Falcons) are getting a playmaker.” That’s London’s evaluation of himself. We will see. This isn’t like taking an offensive lineman. When you take a wide receiver in the top 10 of the draft, it’s usually pretty clear right away if that player was worth it or not.

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I hated this pick last night but I have done some research on him and I am starting to like the pick. I like his demeanor on the field and he looks like he will be a vocal team leader. Something that we haven't had in a minute. And Plus with him and Kyle Pitts is gonna be a real PROBLEM! We might as well go get Malik Willis or Ridder now!  

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Former USC Trojans wide receiver Drake London continues to impress ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. London is likely to be one of the first wideouts taken in the first round on draft night, and he could be selected as early as the top ten. With less than a month until the draft, FOX Sports analyst Bruce Feldman gave London a lofty NFL comparison.

When looking at London, Feldman sees a lot of former Texas A&M and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans.

“First of all, he was an elite basketball player growing up,” Feldman said of London. “He won’t turn 21 until late July, so he’s still pretty young. He’s 6’4, 220, and football functioning speed is really good. He may not time great, but he really can move well when you see him in pads. The other thing that I heard is he reminds people of Mike Evans, who was also a high level basketball player coming out of high school.

“Not quite as big as Mike Evans, but close. Mike Evans ran really well, probably better than people realized until he got through the draft process, then he surprised people with his speed. I think there’s a lot of parallel there. His ball skills are so good. Keep in mind, that was a disaster of a program last year at USC, and he was the one thing they had going. He played hard, and I think you have to give him a lot of respect for what he did on a dreadful team. When everything else was falling apart around him, he was going 100 miles an hour.”

London has impressed in the pre-draft process

Over the first two years of his career at USC, London played in 14 games, hauling in 72 receptions for 1,069 yards and eight touchdowns. This past season, London blew past his previous career highs. In eight games during the 2021 season, London brought in 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns.

In his three-year collegiate career, London had 160 receptions for 2,153 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 13.5 yards per reception.

The comparison to Evans is a lofty one, but it makes sense. Both Evans and London are receivers with good size and good speed, with the ability to make a play on nearly any ball thrown their ways.

In ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay’s latest mock draft, London went eighth overall to the Atlanta Falcons. He was the second wideout off the board in that projection, with Garrett Wilson going at No. 4. Other receivers that are candidates to be taken early in the first round are Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, Treylon Burks, and Jahan Dotson.

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