From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling a wide receiver prospect that put together an impressive 2021 campaign, before injury cut his season short and has left his draft stock up for debate heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.
#15 Drake London, WR, USC (Junior) – 6037, 219 lbs.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Drake London||6037/219||9 3/8”||33”||77 3/4”|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has great size and length for the receiver position
— Height and body control makes him an ideal 50/50, jump ball target in the red zone or along the sideline
— Uses his basketball background to high point the football at the rim and box out smaller defenders
— Has the spatial awareness to make catches in bounds along the sideline, displaying good body control for a bigger body
— Was often used of jet sweeps and WR tunnel screens in 2021
— Has some deceptive shake after the catch, knowing to get up field and runs aggressively through contact to maximize yardage gained
— Was utilized all over the formation in the slot as well as on the outside
— Does a great job crossing face of defenders with inside leverage on in-braking routes
— Will get up on defenders’ toes as a route runner, eating the cushion before exposing his plan at the top of his break to put the defender in a bind
— Does a good job dropping his hips and shoulders to get in and out of his breaks for a receiver his size
— Can fight through contact from the defender in coverage to make enough space in traffic to make the catch
— Has no problem playing through contact as a receiver and can adjust to poorly-thrown balls outside/in the turf with his catch radius
— Does a good job running through the catch point with arms extended and hands at the ready to make the catch
— Gets in and out of his breaks fairly smoothly to the sideline, showing route running prowess for a bigger WR
— Willing run blocker with the size and length to cover up smaller defensive backs
— Doesn’t possess great long speed of impressive burst off the snap
— was utilized on jets sweeps and quick hitters, but isn’t going to make a ton of people miss in space given his limited change of direction ability
— Struggles to stack defenders vertically down the field and get over top of the coverage
— Defenders will get sticky with him in coverage when he fails to separate at the top of his route
— Lacks that suddenness you desire from an alpha WR in open space after the catch
— Endured several focus drops with the ball in his hands, but couldn’t put it away
— Needs to commit more as a run blocker after first contact to block to and through the whistle
— Suffered a fractured ankle late in the season and missed the entire pre-draft process in terms of testing and on-field workouts
— Junior prospect from Moorpark, CA
— Recognized as a PrepStar All-American in HS in 2018
— Also was a stud basketball player at Moorpark, averaging 29.2 points and 11.9 rebounds as a senior
— Appeared in all 13 games and starting nine as a true freshman in 2019 and caught 39 receptions for 567 yards (14.5 avg) with 5 TDs
— Also joined the 2020 USC men’s basketball team soon after the 2019 football season ended and saw brief action in three games
— Played and started all six games in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season where he had 33 receptions for 502 yards (15.2 avg) with three TDs
— Put together an impressive junior season in 2021 despite playing only eight games before being sidelined with a right ankle fracture as he recorded 88 receptions for 1,084 yards (12.3 avg) with seven TDs
— Has appeared in 27 games in his career, with 23 starts with nine games of 100 or more receiving yards
— AP All-American third team (2021), Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year (2021), All-Pac-12 first team (2021), team co-captain (2021), All-Pac-12 second team (2020), Freshman All-American third team (2019)
— Majoring in communications
Drake London was a highly touted recruit coming out of California that decided to stay in-state to play for the Trojans of USC. London not only excelled on the gridiron in high school, but also on the hardwood, putting together a dominant senior season together which prompted him to play both football and basketball his freshman year at USC. However, when his role increased on the football field his sophomore season, he opted to focus on the one sport, leaving basketball behind.
— Dunkademics (@Dunkademics) March 21, 2020
Still, when you watch London play wide receiver, you understand why he was such an effective basketball player, having the height, size, and length to body up smaller defensive backs on the jump ball and high point the ball in the air like a rebound. He does a good job boxing out the defender behind him and getting position on the jump ball like we see on this end zone fade to the left pylon as London jostles for position, getting into the defender’s chest with a subtle push off and manages to catch the ball through contact, falling to the ground and completing the process of the catch for the score.
London not only displays solid strength at the catch point with his hands, but he also has a fair amount of shake as a route runner as well for a receiver of his stature. He does a good job setting up defenders in coverage, leveraging them one way to break out the opposite direction like we see on this vertical pattern against Notre Dame, giving the head fake on the out-and-up to get a good inside release and separation. However, the ball is thrown behind London who manages to adjust back to the under thrown pass and make the catch with the defender’s hand attempting to punch the ball out. He holds onto the ball and makes a big 46-yard gain for the offense.
While he received plenty of hype coming into the season, QB #9 Kedon Slovis regressed from where he was last season as a passer, having plenty of passes go off-target and was eventually sat down for other options. London made the most of this off-target throws, having the wherewithal to come back to the football and save catches that were thrown low to the ground or were outside his framework. We see the former here on an under thrown ball that London fields before it touches the ground for the completion.
As mentioned earlier, London does a good job getting in and out of his breaks for a bigger receiver. He is able to drop his hips and shoulders at the top of his break, being able to whip back to the football and work toward the pass to complete the process of the catch. Here is another clean rep from London against the Fighting Irish as he gets right on the defender’s toes and then breaks back to the ball quickly on the curl route, running back to the pass with arms extended to catch the pass and attempts to turn up field to get additional yardage.
His catch radius and ability to make a quick cut at the top of his route make him and effective receiver working back to the sideline on out routes and post corner concepts. Here we see London takes a strong jab step at the top of his route and break toward the sideline, using his body to shield off the defender while catching the pass with outstretched hands, coming down with two feet in-bounds as he attempts to shake off the defender, but gets whipped out of bounds.
Here is a near identical catch against Stanford where London makes the grab along the sideline, coming down with both feet in-bounds and whips the defender off his frame, nearly turning up field for additional yardage before stepping out. London has a good feel for working along the sideline and in the back of the end zone, making catches with good body control like we see on these last two clips.
While London doesn’t possess incredible deep speed or impressive burst off the line, he isn’t a complete zero with the ball in his hands after the catch. USC expanded his role on offense this past season, getting him move involved on jet sweeps and WR tunnel screens to use his big body and long strides to pick up yardage in the open field. Here is an example where London catches the pass in the flat as the jet motion man, getting plenty of room to run as he turns up field along the sideline and puts a defender on his highlight tape by leaping over him as he attempts to dive through his legs, easily hurdling him to get in for six.
There were also several occasions this past season where London would catch the pop pass or tape the handoff as the jet motion man, utilizing his size and competitive demeanor to get up field and run through contact like we see here against Utah, putting his head down as he gets around the corner to meet the tackler and finishes the run with the first down.
Here is another example against Notre Dame where London is asked to do the same thing but shows the lack of ballcarrier vision and ability to quickly change direction in space, getting bottled up quickly by the defense as he finishes just short of the sticks.
Given his size and physical strength as a receiver, London can be an effective run blocker on the perimeter when he wants to be. He is a willing blocker that will get in on defenders but does need to improve his motor and ability to sustain his blocks past first contact. Here is a good rep against Notre Dame where London picks up the CB and walls him off from the play.
While normally London does a great job catching the football with strong hands and good eyes, he does have issues with focus drops on occasion. There are some passes that are easily completable, but he will let go through his hands for lack of focusing the ball in like on this rep against the Utes.
Overall, Drake London is a talented, power forward-type of receiver that plays the same way on the football field as he used to on the basketball court. He has the size and strength to go up and win the combative catches, but also the smoothness and nuances as a route runner to work the short and intermediate quadrants of the field as well better than most receivers his size could. Still, he has his athletic limitations in terms of deep speed and elite quickness, not being able to consistently stack corners vertically as a deep threat as well as pull away from skilled man defenders by means of elite separation skills.
When you watch London play and compare the traits, Bengals WR Tee Higgins is an easy comparison in terms of measurables (6’4, 216lb) as well as play style as that basketball player at WR who wins the combative catch but has the subtle route running prowess to generate separation despite elite speed or quickness. It should be noted that Higgins separates better than London, but London may offer more in terms of being a route runner and his alignment in various positions coming out of college.
Teams looking for a big body on the outside or a pumped-up slot receiver to compliment a speed demon or a refined route runner should look to target London for the mismatches he can create in one-on-one situations. He will have to prove he can win consistently against NFL-caliber man coverage defenders, but his skill set should help him see early success for a team that helps him best maximize his strengths. Currently, the Steelers have a player like London in Chase Claypool on the roster, so drafting London coming off ankle surgery may be mute at this point. However, Pittsburgh needs receiving help this offseason, and London figures to be one of the better prospects in this draft class if healthy come training camp.
Projection: Day One
Depot Draft Grade: 8.6 – Year One Quality Starter (1st Round)
Games Watched: vs Stanford (2021), vs Utah (2021), at Notre Dame (2021)