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Some Drake London PFF Stuff


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No matter where former USC wide receiver Drake London comes off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft, the NFL team that selects him is getting what I believe to be the best receiver prospect available. 

London’s 6-foot-5, 210-pound stature gives viewers the illusion he’s just one type of receiver — the tall outside receiver, often a one-trick pony who only runs vertical routes and creates separation at the catch point with body posturing. But while London can do all of that, he’s also much more.

OFF THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE

Over 50% of the passing snaps in the NFL have a press coverage element, so being good at that aspect of route running is important. 

The best overall receivers in the league top the charts against press coverage year in and year out. Among receivers who faced press coverage on over 100 snaps this past season, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Justin Jeffersonand Ja’Marr Chase led the way in yards per route run. 

London’s 3.37 yards per route run against press last season ranked fifth in the FBS, and his 88.8 receiving grade on those same looks was first. 

The USC product doesn’t just try to run through cornerbacks when those defenders press him; he has actual moves to create early separation. He can win quickly outside to create space inside or win quickly inside to create more room down the sideline. 

 

 

 

There is some physicality to his game at the line of scrimmage, as he can jam his way through more physically imposing cornerbacks, but that’s not his game. He has great hand usage at this point in the route so that he doesn’t have to use his strength every time. He can swipe a defensive back's hands away to free himself from their press. 

Given his size and technique, his ability to get off press coverage makes him as pro-ready as any receiver in this class

 

Screen-Shot-2022-03-03-at-07.10.51-1231x

 

BREAKING IT OFF

The former four-star recruit also cleans up at the intermediate route level (10-19 yards downfield). Whether it’s with speed cuts or hard 90-degree cuts, he has different tools in his toolbelt for different scenarios. 

This is the next part of the route where receivers can gain separation.  

London earned an 86.1 receiving grade on targeted routes between 10 and 22 yards downfield in 2021. He has different ways to get open, and two plays against Oregon Stateshowed this off. 

Early in the game against press coverage, he took a hard inside release on an intermediate out-breaking route, forcing the cornerback to trail him during the vertical portion of the route. At his breakpoint, London tried to slam on the breaks and let the cornerback fly by him so he could undercut him and hit the sideline unimpeded. The cornerback, on his way by London, had to hold on to the receiver and commit a defensive pass interference call.

london1.gif

 

Later in the game, London again forced the cornerback into a trail position on the same route against the same press coverage. However, after learning from his last route, he stayed high, hesitated at the top of his route and made it look like he was going to run an in-breaking route, fooling the defensive back into allowing route space to the outside.
 

london2.gif

 

 

It's the same route but with two different route breaks. He shows off this crafty route running every rep. 

AT THE CATCHPOINT

If needed, he can also make plays vertically and at the catch point. 

 

Even while missing the end of the season with a foot injury — which he claims he is 85% recovered from  London had the most contested catches in the FBS last season at 19. 

On targets thrown 20-plus yards down the field, London’s 96.1 receiving grade ranked fourth in the FBS. He has the ability to tempo his route on vertical stems and then stack defensive backs so that he can win on top. 

The Tier 1 group of receivers seems to be London, Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, Treylon Burks and Chris Olave, who are all great in their own right. However, London stands out because of his winning combination at all three levels of the route and looks to be one of the most pro-ready prospects at the position in this year's draft.

 

https://www.pff.com/news/draft-uscs-drake-london-wr1-in-the-2022-nfl-draft

 

Response to the draft:

 

8. ATLANTA FALCONS: WR DRAKE LONDON, USC

Pick Grade: Good

There weren’t many position groups across the NFL in more need of talent than the Falcons receiving corps, and London should provide a nice boost. A lot has been made about his ability to separate because of how much of his production came in contested catch situations (FBS-high 17 contested catches in 2021). But that’s not all he brings to the table. London can create separation underneath and was productive after the catch for the Trojans, as well. His 22 missed tackles forced after the catch last year — in just eight games before going down to injury — were a top-five mark in this class. -BL
 

Some Key Stats: 

22 missed tackles forced: Tied for 8th

17 contested catches: Tied for 1st

 

87.4 grade against man coverage

65.4% contested catch rate


Where he wins: Basketball Background

London wins the way elite power forwards win — not surprising with his basketball background. He's too quick for bigger corners and too physical for smaller corners. Even when he's covered, London is still likely to haul it in.

What's his role: True #1-X

London is the prototypical possession receiver. He will command double-teams on third down at the next level because of how many ways he can win. Teams that use receivers heavily as blockers in the run game will covet him.

What can he Improve: Speed

Speed is the only real knock on his game. Sadly, I don't think that's anything he can drastically change overnight.

SHADES OF

Brandon Marshall


PROS

Man among boys. Dominant physicality that will still be there in the NFL.

Loose hips for a tall receiver. Can legitimately shake defensive backs.

Unparalleled catch radius. Remarkable body control at his size.

 

CONS

Lacks speed. Not going to run past corners.

Suffered season-ending broken ankle in October.

Dropped eight of his 96 catchable targets in 2021.

*Its worth noting that the drop percentage of 8.3% is all within about 1% of the other top WR candidates. So this is a normal drop rate comparatively. 

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10 minutes ago, Boise Falcon Fan said:

Sounds like he ran a 4.5 40, so he isn't slow by any means. Not a burner, but plenty fast enough.

I've seen estimates of late 4.4 to 4.58 as far as 40 times for him.  As I pointed out in the Mike Evans comparison thread, Evans ran a 4.53 at the combine and I don't think anyone would call Evans "slow" after watching him play for the last 8 years.  The 2 are very VERY similar.

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16 minutes ago, dirtybirds233 said:

Some more stats....

  • Highest contested catch rate of any WR in this draft
  • Had a 97.15% success rate on underneath routes (huge in Smith's offense)
  • 72.8% success rate against man coverage. For reference, Ja'Marr Chase was a 73.2%

Also a lot of contested catches were due to his terrible QB play

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Just now, Romfal said:

Also a lot of contested catches were due to his terrible QB play

It was painful watching how long London had to wait for the ball at times in his 2021 tape.  He would get up field, create separation at the top of the route and then had to stop and wait for the ball to get there.. giving the defenders time to close the gap.  It is no wonder he had so many contested catches last year.  

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Not against the player, I just thought we needed more of a speed complement to Pitts that Jameson Williams would have brought.  A deep threat to open things up underneath.  It will be hard to double both guys but we do need to be looking to add that deep threat element to the passing game. 

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4 minutes ago, autigerfan said:

Not against the player, I just thought we needed more of a speed complement to Pitts that Jameson Williams would have brought.  A deep threat to open things up underneath.  It will be hard to double both guys but we do need to be looking to add that deep threat element to the passing game. 

Didn't they just sign a 4.28 guy?

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21 minutes ago, autigerfan said:

Not against the player, I just thought we needed more of a speed complement to Pitts that Jameson Williams would have brought.  A deep threat to open things up underneath.  It will be hard to double both guys but we do need to be looking to add that deep threat element to the passing game. 

With our RZ problems over the years give me the size over speed

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1 hour ago, Pa_Falcon_Fan said:

I've seen estimates of late 4.4 to 4.58 as far as 40 times for him.  As I pointed out in the Mike Evans comparison thread, Evans ran a 4.53 at the combine and I don't think anyone would call Evans "slow" after watching him play for the last 8 years.  The 2 are very VERY similar.

Not gonna say I was happy about the pick but the highlights I’ve watched Mike Evans is exactly who he reminded me of.  Mike Evans is the only reason Johnny Manziel was even drafted lol.  

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30 minutes ago, autigerfan said:

Not against the player, I just thought we needed more of a speed complement to Pitts that Jameson Williams would have brought.  A deep threat to open things up underneath.  It will be hard to double both guys but we do need to be looking to add that deep threat element to the passing game. 

Yeah, we need both.  So agree we need that twitchy guy who can blow the top off.  Hopefully they take either a technician or that later in the draft.

If London pans out and we get a twitch guy, that lets Pitts become your matchup guy, which should make him way more effective.

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34 minutes ago, autigerfan said:

Not against the player, I just thought we needed more of a speed complement to Pitts that Jameson Williams would have brought.  A deep threat to open things up underneath.  It will be hard to double both guys but we do need to be looking to add that deep threat element to the passing game. 

Although I think Calvin would be welcomed back next year I really think we gotta cool it on these bama receivers because they haven’t really been good to us recently 🥴 also the return of Ridley is the return of our real speed threat and so two little fast guys really doesn’t make a lot of sense from a team construction lens. That being said I still would have loved a defender but as far as Wr go we may have gotten the best. 

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18 minutes ago, IN_Falcon said:

Not saying he is remotely Jerry Rice, but the knock on Jerry Rice was his speed. 

 

image.png.8614e468134a912cc995a82a2d835282.png

Totally different receiver type, but your point is valid.  Greatest receiver of all time was SLOW, but made up for it with quickness and savvy.  He was also a dedicated student of the game (which by accounts I've read, London is too) and was dedicated to constantly improving.  

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1 hour ago, xFalconLord said:

I dont think anyone is worried about the player Drake London is.. hes going to be a good pro.  Its just the annoyance of not getting big mean line of scrimmage dudes early in drafts. 

I'm still holding out hope for some d-line picks in round 2.  would love to get a DT (travis jones, perrion winfrey, demarvin leal, logan hall) and a DE (boye mafe, arnold ebiketie, nik bonitto)

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5 minutes ago, falconsFTW said:

I'm still holding out hope for some d-line picks in round 2.  would love to get a DT (travis jones, perrion winfrey, demarvin leal, logan hall) and a DE (boye mafe, arnold ebiketie, nik bonitto)

couldn't agree with you more. I would add Phidarian Mathis to that list, I'm surprised he's not discussed more. Had 9 sacks last year as a 3-4 DE even NT some snaps. I think he could pair amazingly with an EDGE guy. Here's to hoping we get 3 defenders and a OL or RB tonight!

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2 hours ago, takeitdown said:

Interesting.  I figured he was the kind of player PFF doesn't like, because they seem to be a "separation" oriented group.

He had a seasonal grade of 91.3 for them, which was one of the highest ever for a WR.

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3 hours ago, autigerfan said:

Not against the player, I just thought we needed more of a speed complement to Pitts that Jameson Williams would have brought.  A deep threat to open things up underneath.  It will be hard to double both guys but we do need to be looking to add that deep threat element to the passing game. 

If it makes you feel any better it really doesn't matter.

The Falcons are going to be very bad this season regardless of who they pick in the draft. If there was an Aaron Donald type of player that could have made a huge difference on defense.

But even the best WR isn't going to make that much of a difference..... unless they did something to fix the oline that I missed.

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So question for everyone who wanted more of a speed wide receiver if for our first third round pick if Michie is there do you take him? Depending of course what we do with our two second-round picks

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