Wide receivers come in all shapes and sizes. There are taller, large body catchers that dominate in controversial catch situations and smaller, more shifting, elusive receivers that are dangerous in the open field. I 2022 NFL Draft, USC Trojans WR Drake London is a rare device that weaves together some of the qualities of these two types of receivers for Frankenstein into a dangerous playmaking threat.
Drake London NFL draft profile
- Position: wide receiver
- School: USC
- Current year: Junior
- Height: 6’5 ″
- Weight: 210 lbs
Drake London Scouting Report
Let’s start London’s scout report with his most obvious feature – size. When you stand at 6’5 ″, you do not have to look hard to find the USC WR among his teammates on tape. This size has some drawbacks that we will come to later, but it also gives him some obvious advantages. London can use its considerable size combined with impressive long arms to pick the ball out of the air.
He has shown the ability to easily go up and secure the ball in controversial catch situations. This is best demonstrated with his touchdown grip in double coverage against Arizona State.
London’s catchability is exceptional. In addition to the example mentioned above, he excels at securing the ball in traffic over the middle field while maintaining possession through contact. This is only part of the physical nature of his play. London also shows this physically as a willing and able to block in the race. In addition, he challenges to bring down in the open field and exhibits competitive toughness to carry more players on his back.
London was hailed 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 for such a high. London has fast feet that allow for excellent lateral agility, easily cutting and often leaving defenders clinging to the air.
Finally, the USC WR presents an incredible understanding of the game. London has an insane ability to find gaps in coverage so he can create space. When the game breaks down, he puts himself in a position for the quarterback to find him.
Areas for improvement
As mentioned in the opening section of the London Scout report, his size comes with drawbacks. He plays with a high pad level, which does not cause massive problems at the moment, but can when he transitions to NFL.
One reason that is not causing too much of a problem right now is his use at USC. London plays predominantly out of the slot machine for the Trojans. In the games studied, he positioned himself exclusively as a game receiver, never off the field. As a result, he has not had much exposure to press coverage during his career. A high pad level will expose his chest in press coverage and affect his route driving ability.
For all his athletic gifts, the USC WR is not blessed with long speed. London does its best on short and intermediate routes using his catchment ability and physicality to add extra yards. He will not win many matches going head to toe with corner backs in a footstep down the field.
Drake London’s player profile
An exciting multi-sport athlete for Moorpark High School in California, London, had the height and athletic profile to succeed on the basketball court and football field. During his senior season, he was named an All-CIF Division 4 and LA Times All-Area team because of his basketball performances. When it came to college recruitment, the opportunity 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 get a little ahead of ourselves. Despite all his ability on the basketball court, London excelled on the football field for Moorpark. As a junior, he got an impressive 1,032 receiving yards at 51 receptions, averaging 20.2 yards per. Catch. He also had 11 touchdowns while demonstrating versatility and athleticism with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Although he was not famous for his long speed, he also took 5 passes for 123 yards.
London’s junior season is cementing the recruiting rankings
These performances earned him the third-team Cal-Hi Sports All-State Juniors award, in addition to being named to the All-CIF Division 5 team. They also enlarged London as a four-star prospect and the 35th ranked wide recipient in the 2019 recruitment class. His 20 offers had a heavy Pac-12 impact, but included scholarship opportunities from all Power Five conferences. Despite interest from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa State and Oregon, there was only one destination for the California child.
“I grew up as a USC fan, my dad is a USC fan. It feels great to say that I’m becoming a Trojan. ”
London committed to USC before its senior season at Moorpark. Another impressive campaign got him to secure 1,089 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he accumulated a number of accolades, including being named All-Camino League Co-Wide Receiver of the Year and a Prepstar All-American.
London’s career at USC
Despite arriving at a locker room full of future NFL receivers, London made his presence feel like a true novice. In early September, he secured his first receptions and took 3 catches for 62 yards against Stanford. However, he would not appear as a dangerous receiving threat until later in the season.
London scored a touchdown in each of the last five games of the 2019 season. Among these scores were two extraordinary performances that showed how he could dominate a game. USC WR was named 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, making 8 catches to a career-high of 142 yards and a score against UCLA.
London ended its first-year campaign with 39 receptions for 567 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.5 yards per catch. Not happy with a sports relationship, he played basketball in the winter for the Trojans.
After finishing the regular season in style, London continued this momentum into its sophomore campaign
After a disrupted summer and the uncertainty of whether the Pac-12 would play at all, the USC WR helped USC overcome an almost defeat against Arizona State with a game-winning touchdown grip in the fourth quarter. The result came as part of another 8-catch performance that totaled 125 yards in the process.
Although London would not break 100 yards again in his shortened sophomore campaign, he would add 90-plus-yard play against Washington State and UCLA. The Bruins were at the receiving end of a unique performance from the USC WR for the second season in a row as London produced its first career game with multiple touchdowns.
In just six games in 2020, London totaled 502 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 15.2 yards per game. Catch. Though Amon-Ra St. Brown led the team in receptions and touchdowns, London led all USC passers-by in receiving yards. With St. Brown’s departure to the NFL will lead London to the USC WR space in the upcoming college football season.
Can London become the first USC receiver since Nelson Agholor was selected in the first round of the NFL draft? At this point, it feels more likely that he will join Michael Pittman Jr. and JuJu Smith-Schuster as prospects from the second round of the program. Still, if he continues to develop specific areas of his game, London possesses the athletic qualities 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.