Career Recap: When Drake London walked onto campus, the Trojans had some veteran receivers who were future pro prospects. Players like Michael Pittman Jr., Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Tyler Vaughns were getting scouted for the next level, with Pittman ending up as a future second-round pick and St. Brown being a steal as an early fourth-rounder. While those were good receivers for quarterback Kedon Slovis, London was too good to keep on the bench, rotating into the game and flashing some special ability. He debuted in 2019 with a total 39 receptions for 567 yards and five touchdowns.
London took on a bigger role as a replacement for Pittman in 2020, but the pandemic-shortened season limited the sophomore to only six games. He recorded 33 catches for 502 yards and three touchdowns on the year.
2021 Season Outlook: London should be poised for a big season in 2021 as long as he stays healthy. With St. Brown in the NFL, London looks like he'll be the No. 1 receiver for Slovis. Having a good college quarterback like Slovis return is huge as well. This will be their third season together, so their chemistry and experience should provide a steady connection. Additionally, USC's offensive line should once again be solid.
London has plenty of weak opponents on the schedule to beat up on. On October 23, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton could be the best defensive back London will take on all season. A few weeks later, he should see some pro prospects with Arizona State's Jack Jones and Chase Lucas.
Skill-Set Summary: There are different types of mismatch receivers in the NFL. Some kill defenses with vertical speed, some are amazing route-runners who generate consistent separation, and others are too big and physical for defensive backs to contain. London is the lattermost as a big wideout who is a physical warrior on the football field. He plays with an infectious attitude as a true competitor. That makes London a very fun player to watch and the kind of receiver who energizes his entire team.
London's combination of size and strength make him a real problem for defensive backs downfield. He uses his long body and leaping ability to provide a big catch radius for his quarterback, and London presents a danger who can out-leap defenders to make receptions in 50-50 situations. With his height, leaping ability, and strength to box out defenders, London is never really covered. He also tracks the ball well and times his jumps well to high point the ball. As a pro, London should be a real asset on third downs and in the red zone to bail out his quarterback in tough situations.
Perhaps London's most special quality is his knack for picking up yards after the catch. Once he catches the ball, London gets North-South and charges through the secondary like a man possessed. Routinely, London will push through tacklers, and his abilities to break tackles and pick up yards after contact are truly rare for a wide receiver. He uses power to push defenders away and his big body to go through them; all while displaying excellent balance to maintain his feet. London is such a fighter who never quits on a play, and often it takes a group of defenders to get him to the ground. His spirit and grit are undeniable, and the fight that he displays really energizes his entire team. Check the video below for some incredible highlight-reel runs from London.
The big question for London, as with any big receiver, is how well they can run. London looks like he has adequate speed to be a starting outside receiver, but he will not be a deep-speed burner as a pro. London's 40 time in the leadup the 2022 NFL Draft is going to be very important for his draft stock.
In the NFL, London looks like he could be a high-volume possessional receiver who is a dangerous red-zone player and presents a consistent size mismatch. London's body type and how he moves on the field look similar to Mike Evans. While Evans is not a burner, he has functional speed to get open and get downfield where his big body makes him tough to cover. If London shows he has that kind of speed in 2021, he could be a special receiver prospect for the NFL.
2022 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2021 season, London looks like he has the potential to be selected on the first- or second-day of the 2022 NFL Draft.