Drake London, WR, Junior
The school: USC
Size weight: 6’4″ / 219 pounds
Knack : 9 3/8″
Arm length: 33″
Wing span: 77 3/4″
Projected draft status: Round 1
London is a junior who has had 23 starts in 27 career games at USC. London played for head coach Clay Helton for all three seasons with the Trojans, London’s offensive coordinator was Graham Harrell. harrell used an air raid system with concepts of mesh, stick, smash, veil and verticals of various formations and personnel groupings.
London is a very good athlete, of slender build, with a very good height and a very good weight for his position. Additionally, London has very good agility, balance, change of direction, quickness, average acceleration, and average foot speed.
In 2021, the Trojans averaged 298 passing yards per game (17th), 145.6 rushing yards per game (81st) and averaging 28 points per game (t-138th).
2019 – None
2020 – None
2021 – Return (Week two against Stanford, no missed time); Fractured right ankle (week eight vs. Arizona, out for the season)
The context: Arizona vs. USC (Week 8, October 30, 2021), 7p est.
To analyse: London displays very good mental processing in this rep to create separation. USC faces the man from Cover 1, and London has a comeback against media coverage. From his exit, Drake displays a very good double move on the line of scrimmage to enter an inside exit. As London enters his rod, he has already gained influence against his defender, and he knows it. London successfully attacks his defender’s outside shoulder to manipulate his defenders’ hips, and when his defender turns to find him, London breaks for his return. While you want to see less chop at the breakpoint to get into his comeback, London still shows a solid change of direction to create the split he did.
The context: USC v. ND (Week 7, October 23, 2021), 7:30 p.m. EST. 1st and 10 @ USC 14.
To analyse: London faces out-of-bail coverage in this rep, and while he’s heading a corner post, the most critical part of this play for London is closing the pad between him and the cornerback. London shows a very good acceleration on the line of scrimmage to close the cushion of the defender and a very good mental processing in its double movement to sell the corner. With the defender’s eyes mostly on the quarterback in this technique, London knows he has to press the defender’s blind spot, which is towards the sideline, and he successfully manipulates the defender. On break point, when he returns to his position, London shows a very good change of direction and an explosion to gain an additional gap. Additionally, London show a very good adaptation to an underthrow as the ball is thrown to them, attacking the disputed pass, securing it and retaining possession after ground contact. Strong hands and competitive tenacity after his run is what made this game.
The context:UTAH v. USC (Week 6, October 9, 2021), 8p est.
To analyse: Another skill in his toolbox is playing strength to create separation. London executes a route curl in the face of soft media coverage from their defender. The defender has good technique and discipline throughout the rehearsal until he and London reach the road stopping point. London’s strength in creating separation at the breakpoint as his defender tries to corner him at the first bat illustrates his physical nature and competitive tenacity to open up at the top of his road.
The context: USC v. COLO (week 5, October 2, 2021), 2p est. 1st and 20 @ COLO 29
To analyse: London run fade coverage vs. soft press. London shows good initial quickness at the line of scrimmage to get into its rod. However, London’s foot speed is below average and he can’t separate himself from his defender when he enters his shaft. Despite failing to split the pitch, London display an elite adjustment to the ball to make play above their defender. London also display elite hands in their ability to attack the ball and seize it at its highest point while retaining possession as it falls to the ground. This is a great display of competitive tenacity and adapting to a sideline/endcourt pass in a contested catching situation.
The context: USC v. COLO (week 5, October 2, 2021), 2p est. 2nd and 8 @ USC 49
To analyse: As the representative against our Lady, London’s job is to attack the safety cushion and threaten the defender. London succeeds in its exit, posting very good accelerations to close the cushion of the defender downstream. London also uses good mental treatment at the top of the road to sell the corner road before breaking into his position; he couldn’t handle the defender if he didn’t get his release. Although he and the defender collide, London has good set-point play strength to get through the defender without losing speed and very good catching-point hands to attack the ball over the defender and keep the possession on the fall. London, again, displayed a very good adjustment to their quarterback’s pass, which is over his shoulder, and he points the ball to make a play over the defender.
The context: USC v. COLO (week 5, October 2, 2021), 2p est. 1st and 10 @ USC 42
To analyse: Here is London’s inability to separate downfield. With below average foot speed, he cannot create breakpoint separation from out of box coverage. Marginal release at LOS due to marginal acceleration, marginal foot speed at the stoppage to separate from the defender.
The context: USC v. COLO (week 5, October 2, 2021), 2p est. 1st and 10 @ USC 36.
To analyse: Here is another example of lower than average foot speed. London faces soft press coverage, performing a crossfade. London uses a speed release to get out of line; however, with below average acceleration and foot speed on his run, he is unable to separate from his defender. He also struggles in his shaft, displaying below average playing strength to maintain the right line in his shaft. But London fights back, and while his foot speed was quick, he is able to counter at the capture point. London have elite playing strength and body adjustment at the point of capture to get rid of their defender and fight inside for the ball at the last second. London displayed elite competitive tenacity, focus and coordination to win the fight for the ball and retain possession on the drop.
London can adapt to several offensive philosophies, but his best fit is with an offense that will primarily allow him to run short to intermediate routes (bubble, dips, loops, returns, takedowns), with the occasional deep double move (corner- post/ post-corner) pathways that allow him to use his mental processing.
London is a level X or Slot starting receiver that you will win with in an offense that will primarily allow him to run short to intermediate routes (bubble, inclines, loops, returns, takedowns), with the occasional deep double move (corner- post / post-corner) ways that allow him to use his mental processing.
London will win with very good initial quickness, mental processing and competitive tenacity. London has several release techniques that allow it to win at the line of scrimmage against media coverage. He has good acceleration to threaten the defender’s cushions in the face of coverage. London displays a good knowledge of coverage concepts and has a good awareness of attacking leverage or defenders’ blind spots when facing bail coverage. At the stopping point, London shows good athletic traits in her change of direction and balance, maintaining her speed while planting her feet. He shows very mental processing at the breakpoint, showing the patience to set up his defenders by manipulating their hips to win on a course. He also displays the ability to split with the force of the game, fighting off attempts to jam at the line of scrimmage or at the break point to beat the defender.
London has elite hands and ball skills that make him a threat against any defender in front of him and at any level of the pitch. He catches passes around his frame and away from his body whether on the move or stationary. London made adjustments to passing low, high or behind him, with excellent sideline awareness and ball tracking. London is great after the catch, displaying plenty of elusive traits to make defenders miss or using more physical methods (lower shoulders/stiff arms) to gain extra yards. His vision as a ball carrier is good and he should be used in screen play. He is an effective blocker and will occupy defensive backs in 1v1 or as a wham blocker.
London will struggle as a splitter with his foot speed and should not be consistently asked to execute routes in deep areas of the court (post, fade or steal). London has also struggled over fades and flight routes at times to maintain space between itself and the border. This will be a problem for the quarterbacks as they won’t have a pocket to throw away if London is sent on a fade or a fly so he will have to develop in that area through his awareness and playing strength. Although London is an effective blocker, he sometimes loses his concentration after his initial engagement, which allows defenders to resume play after his engagement. London is also giving up technique or leverage to use a lunge against defenders in the box and will need to use technique consistently.
Conclusion: The controversy surrounding Drake London stems from his big-play potential, particularly the idea that London can’t part with defenders, and that’s completely untrue. London is effective at all levels of the pitch as he has several tools in his toolbox to create separation. London is a smart, athletic player with elite competitive stamina and playing potential. London’s lack of foot speed is notable; however, some of the NFL’s best receivers aren’t field blazers. Some receivers are technicians, some are burners, and some are physically dominant. With a better quarterback at the pro level, I expect London to disprove the idea that he can’t win at the NFL level.
Matches watched: USC v. washington state, September 18, 2021; USC v. Colorado, October 2, 2021; UTAH vs. USC, October 9, 2021; USC v. Notre Dame, October 23, 2021; Arizona v. USC, October 30, 2021.
See Drake London’s full movie breakdown here: