Drake London was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons when they selected him eighth overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. And, like former Falcons pass-catcher Tony Gonzalez, was a well-known athlete in both football and basketball. As a senior at Moorpark High School in the western suburbs of Los Angeles, London racked up 1,089 yards on 62 catches with 12 touchdowns on the gridiron, and 29.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game as a guard on the hardwood. He was named to the first-team in his league, county, and area, and also All-State in both sports. But he got the most attention for football, where he was a four-star prospect according to 247Sports.
So when USC, an hour from his home, offered London a football scholarship with a spot on the basketball team, he didn't hesitate. London focused primarily on football and caught a touchdown in each of the Trojans' final five games of 2019, his freshman year. He did make it on the basketball court but played six minutes over two games and missed one shot. Not surprisingly, London committed entirely to football starting in 2020 and caught 121 passes for 1586 yards over 14 games. His career at USC came to an unplanned finish when he fractured his ankle the day before Halloween last year. However, he was still named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press after racking up over 80 catches and 1,000 yards in eight games.
Age as of Week 1: 21 | Height: 6-3 7/8 | Weight: 219 | 40-time: n/a
Comparable body-type to: Kenny Golladay
We're breaking down everything you need to know about London from a Fantasy manager perspective, including Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
And if you want to deep into the advanced analytics side of things, SportsLine's Jacob Gibbs has you covered here.
This squad has been tied to big-bodied pass-catchers ever since Arthur Smith arrived. They took 6-foot-6 Kyle Pitts last April, then turned 6-foot (but strong) Russell Gage into a hero last football season. They even signed 6-foot-2 KhaDarel Hodge and 6-foot-5 Auden Tate this spring. London fits the bill as a big receiver who could be fed footballs not only as an RPO target but also as a reliable mid-range weapon with a wide catch radius for Marcus Mariota. He's in line for a big dose of targets right away.
Burly plus-sized receivers don't grow on trees and London got plenty of experience not only seeing a lot of targets at USC but also learning to adjust to inferior quarterback play. Both will be the case this year in Atlanta with the hope that the Falcons solve their quarterback issues within the next two seasons. London didn't run a slew of downfield routes in college, but it doesn't mean he can't or won't. But I suspect that for however long Arthur Smith is calling plays, the focus will be on creating mismatches for London and Kyle Pitts. There's a real chance those two skyscrapers are the top target-getters in The A for a long time. London will be a top-5 pick in all rookie-only drafts except for the super-rare non-PPR two-QB formats.
- Beastly size with long, strong arms to go with tough-to-cover height, quality jumping ability and strong legs. He will immediately be one of the biggest receivers in the NFL.
- Experienced lining up everywhere but was especially on the wide left side of the formation in 2021 after playing 92% of his snaps in the slot in 2020.
- Used hesitations, jump-cuts and stutter-steps with the occasional body-fake to help him sometimes buy a little space between his body and the defender off the snap.
- Hitch/comeback movements happened quickly (sometimes as soon as four steps), especially for a guy his size. That's thanks to his loose hips. Those routes were among his most-run; he was frequently open on them.
- Solid speed, especially for his size.
- Masterfully got into the blind spot of rival cornerbacks and then quickly turned back to the passer for the target. This was probably his best route that went longer than 10 yards.
- Would on occasion employ physicality into his routes to further help him get open without drawing a pass interference call. Room for improvement here, but he's on his way.
- Regularly used his large body to box-out, re-adjust and/or out-reach defenders for targets of any length. Frequently came in handy on end-zone targets. Huge catch radius and has the "my ball" mentality. His height meant he was open even when he wasn't.
- Seemed to have good concentration, coordination and awareness. Regularly plucked passes without slowing his route. Frequently recognized on-coming tackler following a catch and lowered his shoulder to absorb the hit.
- Very good contact balance helped him shed tacklers.
- Fearless. Was very willing to cross the field to catch a pass or deliver a block. Never seemed shy about absorbing or delivering hits.
- Solid blocker with the potential to be incredible.
- Described as a homebody and comes off as a low-profile, soft-spoken type of guy. Should be totally committed to football and not the off-field life that comes with it.
- Nearly half (46%) of his career receptions were made within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Some of that had to do with the offense at USC, but he must develop more as at least an intermediate target to become as well-round of a receiver as possible.
- His off-snap footwork was well-practiced but a lack of burst into his route often saw cornerbacks stay within an arm's length. Aggressive man-coverage NFL cornerbacks will disrupt his timing.
- Wasn't asked to run a full or overly complex route tree
- Could stand to be sharper in his cuts on out, dig and post routes.
- Except for his hitch/comeback technique, he wasn't very sudden in his movements.
- Average acceleration kept him from out-running defensive backs.
- Drew a lot of contact -- big body means big target for defenders to hit. He got blasted frequently and must learn to give himself up more often.
- Fractured his right ankle on Oct. 30, 2021, then suffered a mild hamstring pull in early April 2022, delaying his recovery. He should be OK for the start of training camp this summer.
- Didn't contribute on special teams at all.
Advanced stats to know
- 22 missed tackles forced in 2021 per Pro Football Focus (sixth-best among qualifying WRs)
- 3.52 yards per route run in 2021 (fifth-best)
- 19 contested catches in 2021 (best in the nation)
- 5.23 yards after catch per reception in 2021 (outside of the top-50)
- drop rate: 6.7% (25th-worst among all qualifying WRs)
- 46% of his career receptions were made within five yards of the line of scrimmage
- 2021 red-zone receiving: 23 targets for a 14-103-6 stat line
- 2021 deep-ball receiving (20-plus Air Yards): 23 targets for a 15-456-1 stat line
- 3.27 yards after catch per reception on targets of 20-plus Air Yards (78th among qualifying WRs)
If surrounded by some good teachers, London could quickly develop beyond just a big, physical receiver and turn into someone like Alshon Jeffery. Most remember Jeffery for his size, his downfield receptions and his touchdown totals. Jeffery wasn't necessarily faster than people gave him credit for but rather was crafty about working in open space, which is the part of London's game that needs to be unearthed. It wouldn't be surprising to see London follow Jeffery's trajectory of being a solid contributor in his first few years before developing into a No. 1 Alpha.