The Green Bay Packers own two picks in the first round (Nos. 22 and 28) of the 2022 NFL draft. In this “Packers draft profile” series, we will look at several options for Green Bay in the first round and dissect their collegiate careers, highlight reel and how they would fit with the team.
In this edition, we look at Southern California wide receiver Drake London.
An abuser of mismatches and overlord of 1-on-1 battles in the Pac-12, London had 88 receptions for 1,084 receiving yards and seven touchdowns before fracturing his ankle in his eighth game as a junior in 2021.
London was unbelievable leading up to his season-ending injury. He topped 150 yards in four of eight games, had double-digit catches in five and 15+ in consecutive contests against Utah and Notre Dame. He was on pace to shatter Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee’s 2012 USC records in catches (118) and yards (1,721).
Overall, London was a consummate example of consistency at USC. He caught a pass in a string of 21 games in a row dating to 2019 – he appeared in 27 total games – and never dropped a 20+-yard throw.
London finished his college career ranked in the top 20 of two of USC’s all-time receiving charts – his 160 career catches is 17th on the career list while his 2,153 yards is 16th best. He scored 15 times as a Trojan.
London’s ankle injury, plus pessimism that he falls under the umbrella of elite contested-catch receivers who often find themselves attached to defenders because of a lack of separation speed, creates real trepidation. But like anything else, what a franchise wants and needs, is sitting on the other side of fear.
PRO DAY RESULTS
Note: London opted out of testing/drills at the NFL combine as he continued rehabbing his ankle injury. He participated in position drills only at his Pro Day on April 15, declaring he was about 95% healthy.
40-yard dash: N/A
Bench press: N/A
Vertical jump: N/A
Broad jump: N/A
3-cone drill: N/A
20-yard shuttle: N/A
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Big, long possession receiver with the ability to play outside or from the slot. London lacks desired top-end speed and separation quickness to open clear throwing windows but plays a mature, savvy brand of ball. The game slows down for him when the ball comes out. London was a top-flight basketball player so angles to the ball, body positioning and high-pointing come very naturally to him, turning a 50-50 ball into a 70-30 advantage. While he has the size and skill to dominate the catch phase, his one-speed route-running and lack of separation burst means a career full of contested catches. London's pro career would benefit from playing with a diverse receiving corps that allows play-callers to play to London's strengths.” – Lance Zierlein
“London has more to his game than you’d initially think given his size. He is able to run a varied route tree that asks him to throttle down, which is even more impressive given his large frame. He has enough long speed to threaten defenders vertically but is able to sink and stay tight on his route breaks. His ability to tempo his routes makes him more of a valid weapon on routes than just back-shoulder throws where he overwhelms defenders with his size, which he can also do. London also shows the ability to consistently create yards after the catch because of his good burst and ability to get north with the ball in his hands on underneath throws. That makes him a valid option for routes at all three levels. He also shows spatial awareness and feel for space when working against zone coverages or on scramble drills, knowing how to settle in soft spots and stay friendly to the quarterback.” – Nate Tice
“We view London as an "X" or "big slot" receiver capable of usage similar to what he saw in college: plenty of quick-hitting stuff, attacking the sidelines and middle of the field and occasional deep shots. He still has some tools to add to his bag, and London's development could be aided if he was not thrust into a WR1 role immediately. But we believe he'll eventually get there. London is too gifted to fail without extenuating circumstances.” – Eric Edholm
HOW HE FITS
Appearance-wise, London reminds us of current Packer Allen Lazard, who is about an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier. That’s virtually as far as the similarities stretch. London would instantly be the best jump-ball receiver on Green Bay’s roster if he’s chosen with pick No. 22 or 28. London brings more to the table, however, than winning 50-50 balls. He’s a yards-after-the-catch machine who wields his size, acceleration and toughness as equally lethal weapons in the open field. London’s ankle injury poses some concern, especially for a receiver-needy team such as the Packers, who are in the market for a true No. 1 option, but if Green Bay likes his medicals then he’s got a lot to offer. London was hyperactive in USC’s quick-game offense, has monster red-zone potential, in part because of exceptional body control, and pillowy hands. He might not be around to land with the Packers – some analysts have London pegged as a top-15 talent.