WR – USC
6’4” 219 lbs
Notable College Production:
Drake London is a lanky yet surprisingly agile receiver. He is great in contested catch situations and won at all three levels of the passing game in college. He is a fluid athlete with excellent body control and strong hands. While he did make a number of highlight reel catches in college, the thing that stands out most on London’s tape is the passion and toughness that he plays with. Most mock drafts project London to go in the first round of the NFL draft but I believe there are a handful of questions that still need to be answered to cement his status as one of the top receivers in this year’s class. Most notably his apparent lack of long speed, inconsistent separation, and the significant ankle injury he suffered in October could cause his draft stock to slip. He is currently the third rookie WR being drafted on Underdog with an ADP of 89.2 (as of 3/6).
London is popular with both the analytics community – due to his 99th percentile breakout age – and the film grinders, who love his size and versatility. He was a standout multi-sport athlete who was on the USC basketball team his freshman year before deciding to focus fully on football. His basketball skills show up regularly on film as he boxes out defenders and is very good at high pointing the ball to win contested catches. He has great body control along the sidelines and in the end zone to make sure he comes down in bounds and hangs on to the ball. Tracking the deep ball is also a strength in London’s game as he regularly anticipates where the ball is going, adjusts his body, and times his jump well.
London’s overall college production wasn’t eye popping but he posted good per game numbers each season. He was used in multiple alignments within the USC offense and was productive both as a downfield receiver and in the screen game. He frequently made the first defender miss after the catch but also showed the ability to run through defenders to pick up critical yards on third down and goal line situations. He plays tough and isn’t afraid to hang in and take a hit while securing the catch. He appears to have pretty good burst to get by defenders initially but was often caught from behind when running in the open field.
One of the trickier parts of London’s evaluation is route running and separation. He has flashes of really impressive routes where he uses quality fakes and good footwork to bamboozle defenders and get wide open. However, he is not nearly as consistent as you would like to see and often relies on his size to hold off defenders when he fails to separate out of his break. This is most evident on comeback routes where he frequently allows defenders to get into his body and turn what should be a simple completion into a more difficult catch. How well this will work for him in the NFL remains to be seen, particularly after his arms measured quite a bit shorter than would be expected for his height.
London suffered a fractured right ankle in October which cut his final season at USC short. Recent reports suggest he plans to run the 40-yard dash at his pro day which should provide us more information on two of his biggest red flags, injury and speed. The general consensus seems to be that London has already done enough to be locked in as a first round NFL draft selection, but proving that he is healthy and showing he at least has adequate speed would do a lot to reassure both the NFL and fantasy managers that London is worth investing significant draft capital in. While I am generally lower than consensus on London, I do frequently remind myself that he is one of the youngest prospects in the entire class and should have a very high developmental ceiling as a result.