London ball

What Drake London showed, what Falcons learned about No. 8 draft pick so far

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Drake London’s physical talent is undeniable. That’s why he was selected No. 8 overall for USC, the top receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft.

London is a big guy who plays big. He is very competitive and a physical competitor with big hands who fights for every yard.

This was nothing new to those who had studied his college game tape.

There was a lot to learn about the 21-year-old, information you can only glean by working with him every day.

Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone spoke about that process at a press conference on Thursday, detailing the good news received from watching London work.

“With Drake, first and foremost with a rookie, you get the physical part,” Ragone said. “That’s one of the main reasons you drafted him. The mental part is where you want to see where the guys are at. What we ask the guys on offense to do, they don’t. only part of the passing game but part of the running game as well. You can see Drake bringing that professionalism into the boardrooms and trying to bring it into practice and bring it into the game.”

London has taken what it’s learned to the games, with some solid production to show for it. He has 38 receptions for 407 yards and three touchdowns on 62 targets, which ranks him third among rookies this season.

He was also a relentless blocker on the field – watch Marcus Mariota’s long overtime run or Damiere Byrd’s fourth quarter touchdown at home against Carolina for proof of that – and an active and willing participant in the game of the race. He played well without the ball.

Save a time when Chargers rusher Khalil Mack took the ball away, he didn’t have a drop or a fumble. While some fans have wanted to see him win the ball more, he has a 27.9% target share and 10 red zone targets. He was rated No. 6 receiver against zone coverage, per PFF, showing good awareness in finding windows to get the ball.

Even if we ignore the stats and talk about the eye test, London seems to belong on that level.

Despite early success, London sees plenty of room for improvement in “all aspects”.

“I’m living my dream, to play in the NFL and be quite productive in it,” London said Wednesday. “That’s all I can ask for, but there’s still a lot to do. I’m a competitor and I’m trying to get more.”