Wide receivers come in all shapes and sizes. There are taller, big-bodied pass catchers that dominate in contested-catch situations and smaller, shiftier, elusive receivers who are dangerous in the open field. In the 2022 NFL Draft, USC Trojans WR Drake London is a rare entity that merges some of the qualities of those two types of receivers to Frankenstein into a dangerous playmaking threat.
Drake London NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: USC
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 210 pounds
Drake London Scouting Report
Let’s start London’s scouting report with his most obvious attribute — size. Standing at 6’5″, you don’t have to look hard to find the USC WR amongst his teammates on tape. That size has some drawbacks, as we will get to later, but it also gives him some distinct advantages. London can use his significant size, combined with impressively long arms, to pluck the ball out of the air.
He’s displayed the ability to go up and secure the ball in contested-catch situations with ease. This is best demonstrated with his touchdown grab in double coverage against Arizona State.
London’s catchability is exceptional. In addition to the example mentioned above, he excels securing the ball in traffic over the middle field while maintaining possession through contact. This is just one part of the physical nature of his play. London 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.
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.
Areas for improvement
As mentioned in the opening section of London’s scouting report, his size does come with drawbacks. He plays with a high pad level, which doesn’t cause massive problems currently but could as he transitions to the NFL.
One reason that doesn’t cause too much of an issue right now is his usage at USC. London plays predominantly out of the slot for the Trojans. In the games studied, he lined up exclusively as a slot receiver, never out wide. As a result, he hasn’t had much exposure to press coverage during his career. A high pad level will expose his chest in press coverage, impacting his route-running ability.
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 win many battles going toe-to-toe with cornerbacks in a foot race down the field.
Drake 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.
“I’ve been doing it all my life and if I have the opportunity to play both, I mean, why not?” he told USCFootball.com.
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 the versatility and athletic prowess with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Although not famed for his long speed, he also 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.
“I grew up a USC fan, my dad is a USC fan. It feels great to say I’m going to be a Trojan.”
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. He finished the regular season in style, turning 8 catches into a career-high 142 yards and a score against UCLA.
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.
Having finished the regular season in style, London continued that momentum into his sophomore campaign
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.
Although London wouldn’t break 100 yards again in his shortened sophomore campaign, he would add 90-plus-yard games against Washington State and UCLA. The Bruins were on the receiving end of an exceptional performance from the USC WR for the second season in succession as London produced his first career game with multiple touchdowns.
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. With St. Brown’s departure to the NFL, London will lead the USC WR room in the upcoming college football season.
Can London become the first USC receiver since Nelson Agholor to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft? At present, it feels more likely that he joins Michael Pittman Jr. and JuJu Smith-Schuster as second-round prospects from the program. Still, if he continues to develop specific areas of his game, London owns the athletic attributes to challenge the first round next April.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.