Let’s take a look at the redraft and dynasty fantasy football impact of the Atlanta Falcons’ selection of Drake London.
Team Drafted: Atlanta Falcons
Pick Selected: No. 8 overall
2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Outlook
Drake London landing in Atlanta has been my hope all along. London will compete with Kyle Pitts for the team lead in targets immediately. London is a force to be reckoned with after ranking fifth in Yards per route run and sixth in missed tackles last year (per PFF). He’s a WR3 with upside for this season.
– Derek Brown
Initial redraft ranking: WR32
2022 NFL Draft Profile
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. London is a versatile wide receiver who can separate at all levels of the field. I understand this concern when comparing his 2019-2020 film and metrics, but his 2021 production put those worries to bed. While he hit the benchmarks for a breakout season in 2019, he wasn’t an efficient player that year or in his second season. He ranked 100th or worse in Yards per route run (minimum 50 targets) in each of those seasons. The massive breakout didn’t occur until his 2021 collegiate year, when he blossomed.
|Among FBS wide receivers with 50 or more targets (*Statistics referenced per PFF*):|
|Year||Slot snap rate||Yards per route run (rank)||Missed tackles forced (rank)|
|2019||97.8%||1.65 (185th of 290)||13 (44th)|
|2020*||91.8%||1.82 (100th of 146)||14 (14th)|
|2021||12.6% (86.2% wide)||3.52 (5th of 251)||22 (6th)|
*Only 46 targets in this season. Ranking denoted is if he hit the 50 target benchmark.*
London exhibited incredible versatility with the ability to succeed against various coverage types in a new role during his final eight games at USC. He transitioned to playing outside receiver on 86.2% of his snaps after running from the slot more than 90% of the time in the previous two seasons. In 2021 (minimum 15 targets against both coverage types), he ranked 12th in Yards per route run (3.42, per PFF) against man coverage and second in Yards per route run (4.02) versus zone coverage.
|Drake London: Targets of 20+ yards (*Statistics referenced per PFF*):|
|Year||Deep target %||Targets||Receptions||Deep receiving yards||Deep passer rating|
London’s film highlights him flashing impressive short-area agility to separate on out and comeback routes while also retaining the skill to get open deep. My hope for London is that he lands with an NFL team that will showcase his abilities as a field stretcher. London’s double move and jab step when selling go routes are lethal. There was only one season in which more than 20% of London’s targets came 20 or more yards downfield, even though he excelled in this area throughout his college career.
London will have no issues if he is used closer to the line of scrimmage. His size shows up consistently with the inside leverage on slant routes and in contested or jump ball situations. London’s strong hands show up routinely. Some look at his contested catch volume as a result of his inability to separate in his routes. I attribute it to quarterback play and lay this at the feet of Kedon Slovis. On tape, London gains early and late separation in his routes only to be left waiting on the ball. In many instances, this allowed the corner to close on the route. Slovis’s statistics would have been severely hindered if not for London’s vice-grip mitts.
Last season, London ranked fifth in contested-catch targets (28, per PFF). He was third in contested-catch rate among the 50 wide receivers with 20 or more contested-catch targets (67.8%). Improved quarterback play will go a long way for a player who exhibited plus yards-after-catch ability at his size. London is a bully with the ball in his hands when given room to operate, ranking 14th and sixth among wide receivers in missed tackles forced over the last two seasons.
The biggest area of concern here is the short stretch of dominance we saw from London at USC. A one-year flash in the pan isn’t as cuddly as a two- or three-year run with the same stats. The early-career production does help to ease this worry, but it’s still something that needs to be discussed when looking at London’s overall profile.
The growth and the more nuanced route running he displayed in 2021 offer hope that this is a player who is just scratching the surface of his talents. During his final year, he was more sudden in his routes, showing off more crisp direction changes and setting up corners. In 2019-2020, there were many times when he rounded off the top of his routes. London is deserving of his top-20 status among this year’s prospects, with a bright future and more growth in his game still ahead.
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