With the No. 8 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons filled out one of the biggest holes on their roster. They selected USC wide receiver Drake London, making him the first pass-catcher to come off the board this year.
London was dominant at USC last season and was worthy of his lofty draft position. Standing 6’5”, he was a tough cover for cornerbacks as he used his size to his advantage on contested catches and in 50/50 situations.
During his junior season, London caught 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are excellent numbers for any player, but when you take into account that he played in only eight games before injuring his ankle, it makes his performance that much more impressive.
Injuries are probably the biggest red flag when it comes to London, as he didn’t play more than eight games in a single season collegiately. There have been some questions about his ability to create separation, but that didn’t stop him from producing gaudy numbers with the Trojans.
London will have a chance to continue putting up those big numbers right off the bat with the Falcons as he should take over as their No. 1 wide receiver from Day 1. That opportunity to produce is likely part of the reason some people are so high on his chances to take home some hardware during his rookie season.
One person with high expectations for London is Trevor Sikkema of PFF. He is picking the No. 8 overall pick to take home the Rookie of the Year award.
Opportunity is as big of a factor in taking home an award like that as anything. A player needs to have the chance to get on the field early and often and have the ball put in their hands. London should be afforded that opportunity, as the Falcons lost Calvin Ridley for the season because of a suspension stemming from betting on games and Russell Gage Jr. signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.
Only 10 wide receivers have taken home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in the history of the award, which dates back to 1967. Only three have won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year, which has been around since 2002 and is determined by a fan vote regardless of position.
The Pro Football Writers of America have selected an overall ROTY since 2013 as well and Odell Beckham Jr. is the only wide receiver to take home that one. Only eight have won the OROTY award from them since 1967.