Atlanta Falcons’ rookie wide receiver Drake London is far from happy with his recent production.
The team’s 8th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft hasn’t been able to notch over 40 yards since Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks. However, he still leads the receivers with 41 receptions for 438 yards and four touchdowns.
“You know, the competitor in me, it can bother me a little bit,” London told Sports Illustrated’s Josh Kendall when asked about his ‘limited production.’ “I want to try to do everything I possibly can to help my team and I feel like I can help my team.”
While many critics point their finger at starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, London blames nobody but himself.
“This is a process. I’m a rookie,” he said. “I kind of have to, not go with the flow, but do my job and at the end of the day, the ball is going to find me. When those opportunities come, I have to make the best of them.”
Numbers Are Not Everything to Head Coach Arthur Smith
In case you haven’t noticed, the Falcons run the ball…a lot. That is most certainly in part due to the quarterback’s style and the offensive line’s lack of pass protection.
London has been able to step up in certain situations and help with blocking the run game.
Despite his overall production over the last few weeks, head coach Arthur Smith is ecstatic with how his rookie season is going so far.
“Obviously he’s a huge part of our offense, but the numbers are what they are,” coach Arthur Smith said, via Josh Kendall. “Whether he’s the primary (option on a player) or not, the ball’s not going to him, so what can you do different? We will continue to work at it. It’s not for a lack of trying, but certainly we can do a better job. Like most rookies, there are some things he has to figure out, but we’re very pleased with where he’s at.”
Meanwhile, London only plans on getting better from here.
“I think I’m in a good situation. I think I’m where my heart wants to be,” London said. “There are a lot of things I have to work on personally just to get better at my job.”
London Was a Two-Sport Athlete at USC
There were several ways the Falcons could have gone with their No. 8 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but London was the direction they ultimately chose.
It was hard for Atlanta to pass up the size (6-foot-4, 214 pounds) and jumping ability of the former two-sport athlete that would give opposing defenses more of a challenge.
As a senior on his high school basketball team, London averaged 29.2 points and 11.9 rebounds. He then played a single season of college ball at USC as a walk-on. He could have easily continued to take the basketball route out of high school into college but decided to focus on football instead.
In his final season with the Trojans’ football squad, he was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year despite missing four games with a fractured right ankle. Through just eight games, London logged 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns, finishing his college career with 160 catches for 2,153 yards and 15 scores.
“With somebody like Drake, there are a lot of characteristics that we liked. The skillset we thought was unique,” Smith said on why Atlanta drafted London first. “That doesn’t mean there weren’t other really good receivers there. He was just a good fit for us, and you’re starting to see that. He’s got a bright future if he can stay on this path. If we keep stacking wins, all of that stuff will take care of itself.”