Drake London

Despite Injury, USC’s Drake London Has Pro Bowler Written All Over Him

Following in the footsteps of former USC wideouts Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown, Drake London has entered the NFL draft. Expected to be one of the first receivers taken, check out his scouting report below.

Drake London’s background

A three-year contributor for the USC Trojans, Drake London had his best statistical season in 2021. With 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns, London was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2021. He was also selected to the All-American Third Team. At six-foot-five and 210 pounds, London is a former member of the Trojans’ basketball team. Unfortunately, London was limited to just eight games in 2021 due to a broken ankle suffered on October 31st. His injury is not expected to keep him from doing his job in the long run.

What strengths does Drake London possess?

Of course, the first thing that shows up on London’s tape is his size. At his listed height, he’s already a mismatch for nearly every corner. As you would expect, this shows up on contested catches, where he rarely loses a rep. Combining his height with strong hands and an exceptional ability to track the ball, he rarely loses a rep. He puts these hands to good use as well, as he rarely allows the ball into his body. Instead, he does a great job of attacking the ball with his hands and making the catch by utilizing his large frame. Despite the preconceived notions about tall wide receivers, London is fantastic after the catch. A load to bring down, he’s intensely physical and enjoys delivering a blow to defenders.

He was utilized in this way often at USC as he was routinely involved in the screen game. While he will never be confused with elite route runners, he is an adequate route runner for his size. He also does a good job with his body positioning at all levels of the field.

Any weaknesses or major concerns?

While London’s height is certainly the highlight of his game, it comes with drawbacks as well. His pad level is consistently high, which will leave him open to press coverage in the NFL. Rarely was he faced with this in college, as he was more often used in the slot. While he could be used in this role, his best chance of fulfilling his potential comes on the outside. He will have to become nuanced with his releases and learn to beat press coverage as a rookie. Also, like many other gargantuan receivers, London does not have great long-distance speed. He is not slow, but he is definitely not going to win many foot races in the NFL.

Drake London’s projection at this year’s NFL draft

London is an interesting study when projecting for the NFL. Typically, it is easy to label taller wide receivers as “contested-catch guys”. This relates to players like Mike Williams and Auden Tate, who are always going to win in the air but not as often anywhere else. London is different, however, as he offers value after the catch and has experience playing in the slot. With the trend of NFL offenses utilizing a “big slot,” think Adam Thielen, London fits right in. However, in my opinion, his best chance for sustained success in the NFL comes as a possession-type receiver who plays on the outside. This would allow him to utilize his frame to the fullest and create big plays for the offense while also providing a security blanket.

In April, London will be a first-round pick. His potential as an alpha WR1 type is hard to miss. In the right offense, he could become a Pro Bowler rather quickly.

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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

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