Drake London Drafted by Falcons: Atlanta's Updated Depth Chart After Round 1April 29, 2022
Drake London looks to join the ranks of wide receivers who have made an immediate impact in the NFL after he was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft on Thursday.
A three-year standout at USC, London becomes the first Trojans wideout drafted in the first round since Nelson Agholor in 2015.
London is coming off an outstanding junior year with 88 receptions, 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. He put up those numbers in just eight games because of a fractured ankle suffered in the second quarter of an Oct. 30 win over Arizona.
The 20-year-old became the first USC player to be named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year since Marqise Lee in 2012.
Here's what the Falcons depth chart looks like after adding London's playmaking skills to their receiving corps:
QB: Marcus Mariota, Feleipe Franks
RB: Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Davis, Damien Williams, Caleb Huntley
WR 1: Drake London
WR 2: Olamide Zaccheaus
WR 3: Christian Blake, KhaDarel Hodge, Frank Darby, Brayden Lenius, Chad Hansen, Austin Trammell
TE: Kyle Pitts, Parker Hesse, Ryan Becker, John Raine, Daniel Helm
LT: Jake Matthews, Willie Beavers
LG: Jalen Mayfield, Rashaad Coward
C: Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman
RG: Chris Lindstrom, Ryan Neuzil
RT: Kaleb McGary, Colby Gossett, Rick Leonard
Depth chart info provided by Ourlads and Over the Cap.
In another deep class of receivers, London arguably stands out above the rest because of his size, body control and route-running ability.
B/R's NFL draft scouting department has London ranked as the top wideout and No. 5 player overall.
Nate Tice wrote in his B/R scouting report that London's talent and skill set compare favorably to Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Mike Evans:
"He has enough long speed to threaten defenders vertically but is able to sink and stay tight on his route breaks. His ability to tempo his routes makes him more of a valid weapon on routes than just back-shoulder throws where he overwhelms defenders with his size, which he can also do. London also shows the ability to consistently create yards after the catch because of his good burst and ability to get north with the ball in his hands on underneath throws."
London put up tremendous numbers in college despite playing in only 27 games. He racked up 2,153 yards and 15 touchdowns on 160 receptions. The California native made the All-Pac-12 team in each of the past two seasons, including a first-team selection in 2021.
The return on investment at wide receiver in recent drafts is arguably higher than any other position. Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown have all been drafted in the past three years and made at least one Pro Bowl.
As long as there are no concerns about London coming off a serious injury, he has the ability to join that group of elite pass-catchers.
Despite his limited college experience and not turning 21 until July 24, London looks to be as NFL-ready as any wide receiver in the 2022 class. He will be ready to step in and take the Falcons offense to another level as a rookie.
Even before the Falcons turned the page on the Matt Ryan era, wide receiver was a position they needed to address this offseason.
Calvin Ridley won't play until at least 2023 after being suspended indefinitely by the NFL for betting on games. Russell Gage left as a free agent to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That leaves Kyle Pitts as the No. 1 receiving option on Atlanta's roster. Cordarrelle Patterson showed last season he can be one of the best dual-threat options as a running back and wide receiver. He led the team with 1,166 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns.
But Patterson is also 31 years old and not a long-term solution for a rebuilding Falcons team.
The addition of London as the top receiver gives Atlanta another potential building block to pair with Pitts. Both players could struggle to produce in 2022 with Marcus Mariota taking over at quarterback, but their natural skill is tantalizing for a franchise that has a lot of work to do replenish the roster.