Welcome to the 2022 edition of the Fantasy Football Rookie Snapshot NFL draft series! In this space, fantasy football expert Liz Loza will analyze the incoming class of first-year stars and gauge their impact — be it immediate or latent — on our fake football game.
Next up, the wide receivers. Liz covered Treylon Burks here† Then she discussed Garrett Wilson’s fantasy outlook† Below, she analyzes USC’s star wideout, Drake London†
Drake London, USC
size: 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds
age: 20-years-old (7/24/2001)
Bio: London was a basketball and football standout at Moorpark High, averaging over 20 points per game on the court and scoring 12 TDs as a senior on the gridiron. A four-star recruit and the No. 35 ranked WR in the 2019 class, the SoCal native received 20 offers but was easily wooed by his hometown Trojans.
While he briefly played hoops for the red and yellow, it was clear London’s future was football. After starting nine of 13 games as a true freshman, the star wideout led his squad in receiving yards over the team’s truncated 2020 season. The following year, London exploded over the first eight games with 1,084 yards before suffering a right ankle fracture (on a TD grab) in late October. Despite this, he was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2021.
pros: Ideal size and length, incredible leaping ability, huge catch radius
Cons: Lacks top-end long speed and lateral quickness, durability concerns (the right ankle fracture that he suffered on October 30 prevented him from running at the Combine and a hamstring tweak in early April forced his Pro Day to be pushed)
The Big Picture
From his size to his ability to box out and get vertical, basketball is all over London’s game. At times it feels like he could play the starring role in a reboot of The Rocketeer (a franchise I’m surprised Hollywood has yet to recycle/revive).
It’s as though he has Stark Industries jet boosters attached to the bottoms of his feet that allow him to leap straight into the air and easily win 50/50 balls. He regularly crushed the competition, recording 19 contested catches and 22 broken tackles in eight games (before fracturing his ankle) while earning a receiving grade of 91.8 from PFF in 2021.
While London’s ability to go up is jaw-dropping, his ability to explode out is less impressive. It’s not that he’s slow (though it would be nice to get an official 40 time), it’s just that he’s not particularly sudden or elusive. He’s a big guy so it makes sense, but he moves more like a modern era tight end (which is why you might see a fair number of Marques Colston comp).
Still, London has proven to be highly productive, working both as a (BIG) slot and outside possession receiver. As such, he’s expected to be the first receiver selected in the 2022 draft.
NFL Comp: I see Courtland Suttonbut #drafttwitter likes Mike Evans comp best.
The Jets are definitely their own thing, but I’d be shocked if Gang Green doesn’t call London’s name on the 28. New York spent the bulk of free agency investing in Zach Wilson, attempting to shore up the offensive line and adding two higher-end pass-catching TEs. But the receiving corps (Corey Davis† Braxton Berriosand Elijah Moore) is still lacking.
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London would bring a much-needed perimeter presence to the squad, providing Wilson with a “go-up-and-get-it” weapon. While the second-year QB remains largely unproven, it seems likely that he and London would become fast friends in the red area and that the former Trojan could lead the team in TDs. The additions of CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin muddy the red-zone projections, but I’d take the over on 6 TDs for London in his first year at MetLife Stadium.
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