Wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft don’t come much freakier than USC WR Drake London. Boasting the attributes of a big-bodied pass catcher but the after-the-catch athleticism of a small, shiftier receiver, London’s scouting report shows that he blurs the lines between ordinary archetypes. Call him Frankenstein. Call him a unicorn. Just call him on the first day of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Drake London NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: USC
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’3 7/8″
- Weight: 219 pounds
- Wingspan: 77 3/4″
- Arm: 33″
- Hand: 9 3/8″
Drake London Scouting Report
Despite protestations to the contrary, the 2022 NFL Draft wide receiver class boasts not only top-end talent but impressive depth throughout the three days of the NFL’s annual selection event. One player right at the very top of that class is USC’s London. Although serious injury hampered the unique pass catcher’s final season, we saw enough to conduct a scouting report that showcases game-changing potential.
At present, London is the 15th overall player on the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board. Furthermore, he’s the second-ranked wide receiver behind Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson. But what is it that makes London such a tantalizing NFL Draft prospect?
Let’s start London’s scouting report with his most obvious attribute — size. Although he measured smaller at the NFL Combine than his USC-listed 6’5″, you don’t have to look hard to find London amongst his teammates on tape. As you’d expect from someone of his size, he excels in jump-ball situations. A former basketball player, London’s adept at getting above the rim to secure the ball in unlikely spots.
While his height undoubtedly helps in this regard, there are other factors at play. With 33″ arms, London has long levers which enable him to pluck the ball effortlessly out of the sky. Once safely in his hands, the USC WR does a great job of securing the ball to his body. As a result, he’s able to maintain possession even through contact in traffic over the middle of the field.
Tools of the pass-catching trade
During his USC career, the impressive WR prospect has also demonstrated great ball-tracking ability. With the body control to be able to adjust and reel in balls you might consider uncatchable, London is in possession of almost all of the tools that you require to be successful at the NFL level.
London is physical in contested-catch situations. However, that isn’t the limit of the physicality in his game. The USC WR also shows this physicality as a willing and able blocker in the run game. Additionally, he is challenging to bring down in the open field, exhibiting competitive toughness to carry multiple players on his back.
London was lauded for his athletic ability in high school, and this is one of the more surprising elements of his game. He flashes an unexpected change-of-direction ability for someone so tall. London has quick feet enabling excellent lateral agility, making cuts with ease and often leaving defenders clutching at air. He uses this to pose an after-the-catch threat. Don’t be fooled into thinking the USC WR is purely a jump-ball specialist.
Finally, the USC WR presents an incredible understanding of the game. London possesses an insane ability to find gaps in coverage, allowing him to create space. When the play breaks down, he puts himself in a position for the quarterback to locate him. Having been used predominantly in the slot prior to this season, London has added outside experience to his résumé, making him a well-round 2022 NFL Draft prospect.
Areas for improvement
While London has an impressive scouting report and should be considered one of the top pass catchers in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are still some areas for concern with regard to his NFL projection. Although I believe he has the skills to be considered a true WR1 at the next level, there will be some elements of his scouting report that limit his stock.
An unfortunate by-product of his size, London tends to play with a high pad level. That hasn’t necessarily been an issue at the college level, helped somewhat by his usage at USC. However, if he continues to play with a high pad level at the NFL level he will leave himself open to attack in press coverage.
For all his athletic gifts, the USC WR isn’t blessed with long speed. London does his best work on short and intermediate routes, using his after-catch ability and physicality to add extra yards. He won’t separate downfield based on speed alone. That said, his ability to win contested catches at a high rate should negate some of those concerns.
London is expected to make a full recovery from his 2021 injury. However, with little evidence to support that expectation, teams may prove a little wary. He didn’t test at the NFL Combine or the USC Pro Day. A planned individual workout then got postponed. It’s understandable that London would want to ensure he’s at full fitness, but the continual inability to test might raise significant question marks.
London’s Player Profile
An exciting multi-sport athlete for Moorpark High School in California, London possessed the height and athletic profile to succeed on the basketball court and the football field. During his senior season, he was named to the All-CIF Division 4 and LA Times All-Area teams due to his basketball performances. When it came to college recruiting, the option to play both sports at the next level was an enticing proposition.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves a little. For all his ability on the basketball court, London excelled on the football field for Moorpark. As a junior, he racked up an impressive 1,032 receiving yards on 51 receptions, averaging 20.2 yards per catch. He also snagged 11 touchdowns while demonstrating his versatility and athletic prowess with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Although not famed for his long speed, London took 5 carries for 123 yards.
London’s junior season cements recruiting ranking
Those performances earned him third-team Cal-Hi Sports All-State Juniors honors, in addition to being named to the All-CIF Division 5 team. They also solidified London as a four-star prospect and the 35th-ranked wide receiver in the 2019 recruiting class. His 20 offers had a heavy Pac-12 influence but contained scholarship opportunities from all the Power Five conferences.
Despite interest from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa State, and Oregon, there was only one destination for the California kid. London committed to USC before his senior season at Moorpark. Another impressive campaign saw him secure 1,089 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he accumulated a litany of accolades, including being named the All-Camino League Co-Wide Receiver of the Year and a Prepstar All-American.
London’s career at USC
Despite arriving into a locker room full of future NFL wide receivers, London made his presence felt as a true freshman. In early September, he secured his first receptions, taking 3 catches for 62 yards against Stanford. However, he wouldn’t emerge as a dangerous receiving threat until later in the season.
London notched a touchdown in each of the final five games of the 2019 season. Amongst those scores were two exceptional performances that showcased how he could dominate a game. The USC WR was named the Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Week after securing 111 yards and a touchdown on just 6 receptions. London finished his freshman campaign with 39 receptions for 567 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.5 yards per catch.
Not content with a one-sport relationship, he played basketball in the winter for the Trojans. After a disrupted summer and the uncertainty of whether the Pac-12 would play at all, the USC WR helped USC overcome a near-defeat to Arizona State with a game-winning touchdown grab in the fourth quarter. The score came as part of another 8-catch performance, racking up 125 yards in the process.
In just six games in 2020, London tallied 502 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 15.2 yards per catch. Although Amon-Ra St. Brown led the team in receptions and touchdowns, London led all USC pass catchers in receiving yards.
London’s NFL Draft ascension
With St. Brown headed to the NFL, London had the opportunity to lead the USC WR room and establish himself as a star in the 2022 NFL Draft class. His campaign got off to an exceptional start, with 12 receptions and 137 receiving yards in the season-opening win over San Jose State. It was just the beginning of an incredible run of form.
Between the Washington State game in Week 3 and a late October clash with Notre Dame, London reeled in over 100 yards in five consecutive games. That run included a career-high 171 receiving yards in a defeat to the Fighting Irish. Heading into a late October game against Arizona, the freakish WR was set to break USC single-season records.
However, the Arizona game would bring to an end London’s incredible junior season, as he was lost for the year after suffering a broken ankle. Despite missing four games, London ended the season with 1,084 yards and 7 touchdowns, earning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. As expected, he declared for the 2022 NFL Draft at the conclusion of the season.
Although he has yet to be able to test, London is still earning first-round attention in the 2022 NFL Draft. The fact that he’s been forced to push back his pro day performance may be unsettling for NFL teams. However, as his scouting report attests, London is a game-changing playmaker who has the ability to add value to an offense in multiple ways.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Drake London
Positives: Tall, game-controlling receiver with dependable hands. Has a smooth and fluid style, uses his frame to shield away defenders, and consistently comes away with the contested grab. Uses his hands to separate from defenders, sells routes, and quickly gets into breaks. Extends to snatch the ball out of the air and possesses soft, natural pass-catching hands.
Tracks the pass in the air, gets vertical, and high-points the ball over defenders. Plays with balance as well as body control, possesses outstanding eye/hand coordination, and makes the reception in stride. Smart, knows where he is on the field, and plays like a good athlete. Possesses a sense of timing, comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, and gives effort after the catch. Stout, wins out in a crowd, and is tough to bring down after the reception.
Negatives: Had a limited route tree at USC. Shows average quickness in his overall game. Lacks a burst and deep speed.
Analysis: London was a terrific receiver for USC the past three seasons and is a natural pass catcher who projects well to the next level. He’s more advanced than most big-bodied college wideouts who rely on size and strength to win out for contested throws. London is fluid and very smooth. I still believe he would struggle in a timing offense or a scheme that asks receivers to separate through routes. Still, London can be a Day 1 starter on Sundays in the proper offensive system.