The Atlanta Falcons have their hands full with several needs on both sides of the ball, including the wide receiver position.
Now, whether or not Atlanta addresses the WR need in the draft or free agency remains to be seen but ESPN’s Todd McShay recently revealed a new mock draft that predicts the Falcons make the position their top priority and has them selecting USC wideout Drake London at No. 8 overall.
A team has used top-10 picks on pass-catchers in back-to-back drafts three times since 1967, so this might seem odd for a roster that just went 7-10. But the offense could lose five of the eight players who had at least 70 receiving yards last season to free agency, and it’s possible the Falcons additionally look to trade Calvin Ridley, who played in five games last year while taking time off to focus on his mental health. London, meanwhile, was on his way to a massive campaign for USC before breaking his right ankle in October. He’s a 6-foot-5 target who has the body control and contact balance to make plays over the middle, the speed to produce vertically and the instincts to create against different defensive looks.
The Falcons passed on a strong QB class at No. 4 last April to draft tight end Kyle Pitts, but it might decide to go that route now. Matt Ryan is their guy for 2022, but if they fall in love with one of the signal-callers, it’s a good spot to draft an heir to sit and learn behind Ryan. Perhaps Pitt’s Kenny Pickett could fit.
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London’s Scouting Report
Current Year: Junior
Weight: 210 pounds
In his official scouting report, Pro Football Network labels London as a ‘rare entity.’
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.
Even as a true freshman, London made his mark at USC, finishing his first campaign with 39 receptions for 567 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.5 yards per catch. Not to mention, he also played basketball for the Trojans in the winter. He continued to prosper during his shortened sophomore season, recording 502 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 15.2 yards per catch.
In his final year with the Trojans, he tallied 88 receptions for 1,084 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in just eight games before sustaining an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season. Despite a minor setback, he should be back to feeling 100% just in time to go in the first round of the draft and back to full speed for pre-season workouts.
The Falcons Have Just One WR Under Contract
With Calvin Ridley‘s status uncertain, along with free agents Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Tajae Sharpe and Christian Blake hitting the open market, second-year wide receiver Frank Darby is the Falcons’ only wideout currently under contract for 2022.
This means the Falcons will have no choice but to address the WR position, however, the first round of the 2022 draft might not be the answer considering the wideout talent runs deep in the draft and their other needs do not.
Either way, there will be options for Atlanta.
- Falcons RB Pushes for New Contract Deal
- Proposed Offseason Trade Sends Falcons’ Calvin Ridley to Browns
- Falcons’ Matt Ryan Instilled Confidence Into Potential Ridley Replacement