Drake London is entering the NFL draft process after becoming a true alpha-level prospect in his final season at USC. In 2021, he ranked 19th in targets (119), 14th in receptions (88), and 27th in receiving yards (1,084) among all FBS wide receivers despite only playing eight games. (due to injury). London averaged 14.8 targets, 11 receptions and 135.5 receiving yards per game last year.
London thrived as a former four-star recruit, escaping the shadow of ex-teammates Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown. His dominant final season coupled with his early age (18.1, 99th percentile), solid college dominance rating (34.9%, 69th percentile per PlayerProfiler.com), and an outstanding college target share (27.3%, 82nd percentile), foreshadow a productive NFL career on the horizon.
Drake London Project Profile
|40 yard dash||did not run|
* Recruit stars via 247Sports
Drake London College Stats
|Year||Games||Targets (% target)||Receptions||Reception course||Yards per catch||Catch rate||Receive touchdowns|
Fantasy analysis of Drake London Dynasty
Let’s get rid of this immediately. London is a versatile wide receiver who can separate at all levels of the field. I understand that concern comparing his film and his 2019-2020 metrics, but his 2021 production put those concerns to bed. Although he hit the benchmarks for a breakout season in 2019, he was not an effective player that year or in his second season. He ranked 100th or worse in yards per course (minimum 50 targets) in each of those seasons. The massive breakout didn’t happen until his 2021 academic year, when he blossomed.
|Among FBS wide receivers with 50 or more targets (*Statistics referenced by PFF*):|
|Year||Location hook rate||Yards per run (rank)||Forced missed tackles (rank)|
|2019||97.8%||1.65 (185th out of 290)||13 (44th)|
|2020*||91.8%||1.82 (100th of 146)||14 (14th)|
|2021||12.6% (86.2% width)||3.52 (5th out of 251)||22 (6th)|
*Only 46 targets this season. The rank shown is if it reaches the benchmark of 50.*
London has shown incredible versatility with the ability to succeed against various types of coverage in a new role in his last eight games at USC. He switched to playing outside receiver on 86.2% of his snaps after fleeing the slot more than 90% of the time in the previous two seasons. In 2021 (minimum 15 targets against both types of coverage), he ranked 12th in yards per yard (3.42, per PFF) against man coverage and second in yards per yard (4.02) compared to area coverage.
|Drake London: Targets Over 20 Meters (*Statistics referenced by PFF*):|
|Year||Deep target %||Targets||Receptions||Deep receiving yards||Ranking deep passers|
The London film showcases him with impressive agility in short areas to split on the out and back routes while retaining the ability to open up deep. My hope for London is that he lands with an NFL team that showcases his abilities as an on-court stretcher. London’s double move and tapping step when selling go routes is deadly. There has only been one season in which more than 20% of London’s goals have fallen from 20 yards or more, although he has excelled in this area throughout his college career.
London will have no problem if used closer to the line of scrimmage. Its size appears consistent with interior leverage on angled routes and in contested or jumped situations. London’s strong hands appear regularly. Some view his take volume challenged due to his inability to separate in his routes. I attribute it to quarterback play and put it at the feet of Kedon Slovis. On tape, London gets an early and late split in their routes to find themselves waiting for the ball. In many cases, this allowed the corner to close in on the road. Slovis’ stats would have been severely hampered if not for the London vice-grip mitts.
Last season, London ranked fifth in contested catch goals (28, per PFF). He was third in contested catch rate among 50 wide receivers with 20 or more contested catch targets (67.8%). An improved quarterback game will go a long way for a player who has shown more yardage-after-catch ability at his height. London is a bully with the ball in his hands when given the chance to operate, ranking 14th and sixth among wide receivers for forced missed tackles over the past two seasons.
The biggest area of concern here is the short streak of dominance we’ve seen from London to USC. A one-year flash in the pan isn’t nearly as cuddly as a two- or three-year run with the same stats. Early-career production helps ease that worry, but it’s still something that needs to be discussed when looking at London’s overall profile.
The growth and more nuanced journey he has displayed in 2021 offers hope that he is a player who is only scratching the surface of his talents. In his final year he was more sudden in his routes, showing sharper changes in direction and setting up turns. In 2019-20, there were plenty of times he rounded off the top of his runs. London deserve their top 20 status among this year’s prospects, with a bright future and growth in their game yet to come.
Take Tee Higgins short route and combine it with Mike Evans’ force at the point of grip.
Landing point and outlook
Drafted team: Atlanta Falcons
Pick Selected: No. 8 overall
Landing Drake London in Atlanta has always been my hope. London will rival Kyle Pitts for the team leader in the targets immediately. London is a force to be reckoned with after ranking fifth in yards per course and sixth in missed tackles last year (per PFF). This landing spot lets him see a boatload of Week 1 targets and cements him as a 24th Dynasty wide receiver.
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