Drake London makes list of ESPN Top NFL Rookies

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Drake London burst onto the NFL scene during his first two games with the Falcons. Against the Saints and Rams, the USC product hauled in 13 receptions on 19 targets for 160 yards and a touchdown. London looked prime to make a run at the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but his production has fallen off a cliff since then because of the Falcons’ offensive tendencies. In the next seven games, London totaled 20 receptions on 37 targets for 209 yards and one score.

Atlanta runs the ball more than just about anyone in the league, and rightfully so; Arthur Smith’s group is one of the most effective rushing offenses in football. London’s role in the offense isn’t nearly as significant as some other rookie pass catchers, but he’s still considered one of the best first-year players in the NFL, according to ESPN.

Why he’s here: London has the 6-foot-4 physical profile to stretch the seams or isolate as a boundary target in the pass game. London leads the Falcons in routes run (187) and targets (56), but Atlanta’s lack of throwing volume has limited his total production. The Falcons are last in pass-play percentage at just 46.9% and average 22.3 pass attempts per game. So we still haven’t seen London reach his rookie ceiling in that offense. — Bowen

Going forward: The first receiver drafted this year has flashed when given opportunity, making the most of his role in a run-heavy offense. Twenty-two of his 33 catches have gone for a first down, but more volume could open up another level of his game. — Reid

Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who were selected after Drake London in the draft, were ranked ahead of the Falcons rookie. Wilson has totaled 42 catches for 521 yards and two touchdowns; Olave has posted 43 catches for 618 yards and two touchdowns. Compared to London’s 33 catches for 369 yards and two scores, you can see why he was ranked behind the former Buckeyes. The Falcons’ offensive philosophy limits what the big-bodied receiver can do. Much like Kyle Pitts, London won’t reach his ceiling in a system like this, but it’s more of an indictment of Marcus Mariota rather than indicative of Arthur Smith’s scheme.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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