2022 NFL Draft First Look: Drake London, Wide Receiver, University of Southern California

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Drake London is a junior wide receiver at the University of Southern California. He is a rare athlete. His frame is that of a boundary receiver, as he stands at 6’5” and weighs 210 pounds. He played basketball in 2019 as a freshman, and it shows on his football tape. He has not played basketball since 2019 but has played football in all three seasons from freshman to now as a junior. He has seen consistent production over his first two seasons. He racked up 39 receptions for 567 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. To follow it up, he posted a stat line of 33 receptions, 502 yards, and three touchdowns as a sophomore. Through two games as a junior, London has posted 16 receptions for 205 yards and one touchdown. 

STRENGTHS: 

London shows awareness in small spaces by using the defender’s leverage against him to create separation. He uses head fakes and slight body movements within the route to set up defenders and give his quarterback an even better window to throw into. During his first two seasons, he was used exclusively in the slot. He employs a quick stutter step, which makes him very dangerous on two-way goes. London is a natural cutter. His basketball background is apparent in the slot with the stutter steps, as he looks natural when separating in small spaces while keeping his defender guessing on where he is headed. He seems to almost jump out of his cuts and get to his route quickly after a cut. This makes him very effective on slants, where he can use his quick cuts to get in front of the defender and use his large frame to give his quarterback a big target. London is physical with the ball in his hands- he absorbs contact and keeps churning forward with this large frame. In 2021, he started playing on the outside. He provides a large catch radius and is effective on comeback routes due to his frame and his ability to use small movements to deceive the defender. 

WEAKNESSES: 

London does not have notable deep speed. This can be an issue on deep throws because he will not get the distance in separation down the field to make his quarterback completely comfortable pushing the ball to him. He can use better play speed in his route running, which will not make him as reliant on being physical at the catch point to make catches consistently. After playing almost exclusively in the slot his first two seasons, he has moved to the outside in 2021. The USC coaches had a specific plan for him, having only played in the slot at the beginning of his career to move outside in 2021. This could be an issue in sharpening his ability to move seamlessly between playing at different parts of the field. 

BOTTOM LINE

Drake London is a very talented receiver with an ideal frame for a wide receiver, as he stands at 6’5”. He offers a rare skill set for someone with his frame due to his stutter step and cutting abilities that appear to have translated from his basketball background. Because of this, he was used a lot in the slot his first two seasons, and USC was able to take advantage of his prowess on two-way goes and his big catch radius. London’s experience playing outside in 2021 will only help his draft stock, as teams will not have to worry about him being a one-trick pony. We have yet to see how an entire season on the outside looks for him, but he has the skill set to play very well there as well as in the slot. Depending on how he does on the outside in 2021, London should be a high-to-mid second-round pick when the draft rolls around in April 2022.

GAMES WATCHED: UCLA 2020, Oregon 2020, Arizona State 2020, Washington State 2020, Stanford 2019, Stanford 2021

Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.

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