The Falcons selected Drake London with their first-round pick in the NFL Draft last month. His showy stat tally would impress any football fan – 160 catches for 2,153 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons as a Trojan, including 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games in his final season. Although most fans have wanted a pass thrower or offensive linemen, I think they will end up being pretty happy with the USC product. London will be a force in this league, but who of the Falcons benefits most from selection?
Although Kyle Pitts is a few inches taller and weighs a few pounds more, the two physical specimens are nearly interchangeable. Even though Pitts broke nearly every receiving record, the Florida Gators product struggled periodically. Without Calvin Riley or any other capable receiving threat, the defenses rolled their blankets on Pitts, bracketing him on almost any route. No more.
London’s influx of talent on offense will create more opportunities for Pitts. At 6’5″ and 6’6″, the two will be a nightmare for small corners. They should be able to play from similar rosters, and that will only make Pitts more dangerous. He might benefit a bit, but he’s not the main beneficiary.
Athleticism Ted Nguyen ranked his Favorite “Scheme Fit” of this year’s draft class, and London was his favorite. “A big part of Arthur Smith’s offense is shooting hard counterfeits,” Nguyen said. “Although London is not a burner, he has been able to gain depth thanks to his physicality that cuts through defensive backs and beats them to the point of capture.”
Arthur Smith had great success with A.J. Brown, which won routes in the same way. Smith may benefit more than Pitts; he couldn’t do much to come up with plans to get Pitts and Cordarelle Patterson opened a year ago. Now he will basically have two versions of Kyle Pitts to work out pieces.
The biggest beneficiary: whoever throws the ball in London. The former basketball player makes quarterbacks’ lives a whole lot easier, essentially bringing 50/50 balls closer to 75/25 in favor of the good guys. It’s like a safety blanket for signal callers; Mariota and Ridder will love tossing the ball to a guy who’s making contested catches in his sleep. London recorded 19 last seasonthat’s six more than any other college football player in the 2021 season.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire