20/20: Drake London, WR USC

Bruce Matson

Welcome to the 20/20 series. As part of our Dynasty Scouts coverage and in preparation for the NFL Combine, we profile 20 of the top incoming rookies of the class of 2022 by giving you 20 facts you must know.

1. Player Name: Drake London

2. College: USC Trojans

3. Height/Weight: 6’5’’, 210 pounds

4. Birthdate: July 24, 2001 (20)

5. Class: Junior

6. Basic college stats:

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Courtesy of Sports Reference.

During his freshman season in 2019, he shared the field with Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown. He managed to finish the season ranked fourth on the team with 567 receiving yards. London posted two big performances when he hung 111 yards and one touchdown on Cal and 142 yards and one touchdown on UCLA. Considering he was sharing the field with two prominent wide receiver prospects, he still managed to be a key contributor to the team’s passing offense.

Pittman moved on to the NFL, allowing London to showcase what he can do in a more prominent role during his sophomore season. He took over, leading the team in receiving with 502 yards. The second-year wide receiver caught five or more passes in four of his six contests. His best game of the season came against Arizona State where he caught eight passes for 125 yards and one touchdown.

It was London’s time to shine during his junior season. It was his turn to be the alpha wide receiver in the offense. He did not disappoint as he surpassed the 100-yard mark six times that season. There wasn’t a game where he didn’t have one of the top highlights on Sportscenter. He was the reason many college football games stayed up late to watch Pac-12 after dark. His junior season abruptly ended when he injured his ankle against Arizona. Before the injury, London was on pace to finish the season as one of the most productive wide receivers in college football.

7. NFL draft round projection:

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Courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database.

On average, London is being selected around 16 overall in mock drafts. He is almost a lock to get selected for this year’s draft. He is falling all over the board in the first round of mock drafts. We are seeing him get selected by the Chiefs, Eagles, Patriots, and Browns the most. With that being said, I think it’s safe to forecast him as a first-round pick. It’s highly unlikely he falls to the second round.

8. Current NFL comp: Out of all the receivers in this year’s class, London has the easiest comp to make. He has been compared to Mike Evans throughout his career and during draft season. It’s easy to see. The two wide receivers have a similar build and style of play. Both receivers excel at getting downfield using their size, catch radius, and jump-ball abilities to complete the catch.

9. Best possible destination: The best possible destination for any wide receiver in this year’s class is the Los Angeles Chargers. There’s going to be an open spot on the depth chart when Mike Williams leaves in free agency. Justin Herbert is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. Keenan Allen isn’t getting any younger.

10. Worst possible destination: The worst possible realistic situation would be Cleveland. Baker Mayfield is currently at a crossroads in his career. There’s a chance the team might need to bring in a new quarterback sooner than later. The team has a low-volume passing offense which limits fantasy production for wide receivers. There are major questions with the organization after the Odell Beckham situation that happened last season. On the flip side, he would be the WR1 on the team very early in his career and will get the opportunity to prove himself almost instantly.

11. Best current skill: His ball skills stand out like a green hand with an orange bill. London’s basketball background is very transparent in his game. He excels at getting downfield and using his size and catch radius to create just enough separation to make the catch. This doesn’t happen without him being able to time his jump perfectly. London is going to be tough in contested catch and red zone situations.

12. Skill that needs to be improved: London is a more well-rounded wide receiver than what many people give him credit for. Since he’s a bigger receiver, many people will hold him to similar standards compared to a smaller framed receiver. His route running is very good and he cuts and moves laterally very well. I think if he can take the “sell’’ before his break to another level, then we could see him blossom. He separates well for his size, but if he starts putting the top defensive backs in the league on skates, then he could be one of the best wide receivers in the league.

13. Current rookie value: According to DLF’s Rookie Rankings, London is the WR3 in the class. He is ranked as the fifth-best player overall in the 1QB rankings and the seventh overall in the superflex rankings. According to Sleeper’s ADP, he holds a 61.2 average draft position in startup drafts. I’ve personally conducted a lot of mock drafts and he never falls outside the first round in either 1QB or 2QB drafts.

14. Projected dynasty value:

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Courtesy of DLF’s ADP Comparison Tool.

As previously stated, London has a 61.2 ADP on Sleeper. That compares to where Jaylen Waddle and Rashod Bateman were getting drafted last off-season. As you can see, after having a good rookie season where he produced four WR1 and four WR2 weeks, we saw Waddle’s average draft position jump into the top 15 of startup drafts. Bateman’s season started slow and was very frustrating for fantasy gamers. Even with limited production, he still managed to hold his value.

If London comes out of the gate flashing his talent, then his fantasy value is going to increase to almost untouchable levels. If he struggles to produce, then there’s a good chance he will at least hold his dynasty value going into the next season. There’s a chance he could face plant during his rookie season. However, those cases are few a far between for first-round wide receivers. Jalen Reagor is a popular example from the 2020 draft class.

15.) As a recruit: London was a four-star recruit in the 2019 recruiting class. 247Sports had him ranked as the 35th-best receiver in their composite rankings. He received offers from many Power Five programs, including Notre Dame, Cal, Arizona State, and Oregon.

16) His basketball background: During his time at USC he appeared in two games on the hardcourt in the 2019-2020 season After a very productive sophomore season in 2020, he decided to stick with football. Coming out of high school he was regarded as a highly decorated basketball recruit. 247Sports had him rated as a three-star recruit in the 30th-best shooting guard in his class.

17) Advanced metrics: London had his best season in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, he posted 3.52 yards per route and 5.2 yards after the catch per reception. As a sophomore, he had a 147.6 quarterback rating when targeted. During his career, he played in the slot on 65.1 percent of his offensive snaps. He spent most of his time in the slot during his freshman and sophomore seasons as he only lined up in the slot on 12.6 percent of his snaps during his junior season.

18.) Age-adjusted market share:

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Even though London has to share the field with Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown, he still managed to own a 12.99 percent share of the team’s passing production. His production increased during his sophomore season when he owned a 26.2 percent share of the team’s passing production. If you are using a 20 percent threshold, this counts as an age-19 breakout for London. He had his best season in 2021 when he posted a 32.7 percent share of USC’s passing production along with 2.17 yards per team pass attempt.

19. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper’s mock drafts: In both of their most recent mock drafts, McShay and Kiper have London as the first wide receiver off the board. McShay has him getting drafted by the Atlanta Falcons at eight overall while Kiper has him getting selected by the New York Jets at ten overall.

20. The fractured ankle: London’s last catch as a USC Trojan came during the second quarter against Arizona. He was a recipient of a six-yard touchdown pass from Jaxson Dart. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle on that play and had to leave the game. In two quarters he caught nine passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns. After the game, it was reported that he fractured his ankle and his season was over. Before the injury, London was on pace to reel in 132 catches for 1,626 yards and 11 touchdowns.

bruce matson
20/20: Drake London, WR USC