The Falcons feature one of the youngest and most exciting offenses in football. In three successive draft cycles, Atlanta landed elite talent — Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson. It’s primed to be one of the best skill groups in football, but only one is featured in PFF’s All-Breakout Team.
With all the praise and accolades going to the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, London was actually the first receiver off the board in 2022 when the Falcons made him the eighth overall pick. Despite a very run-heavy system in Atlanta, London still put together a very strong rookie year, catching 72 passes for 866 yards and four TDs to go along with an 85.3 receiving grade. He saved his best performance for last, as his Week 18 performance saw him catch six passes for 120 yards and an 87.7 offensive grade. London is expected to be the No. 1 receiver in Atlanta and with the lack of other receiving threats around him, expect Desmond Ridder to go to him early and often in 2023.
Pro Football Focus isn’t the only one who believes London is in for a huge 2023 campaign. Peter Schrager had the former 8th overall pick as a breakout candidate for the upcoming season.
London’s rookie year should be considered a success. He broke Atlanta’s record for most receptions as a first-year player, which Kyle Pitts broke the year prior. He put up nearly 900 yards on 72 receptions, but those numbers probably should’ve been better.
London had a 19% off-target rate last year, which was the fifth-highest among all pass catchers last year, which had to be even higher before the Falcons benched Marcus Mariota. London quickly built a rapport with Desmond Ridder in one of the most encouraging takeaways from last season.
Across four games with Ridder, London was targeted 36 times, catching 25 of them for 333 yards, 13.32 yards per catch — a 69.4% catch percentage. The numbers with Marcus Mariota under center were noticeably different.
In 13 games with Mariota, London received 81 targets, hauling in 47 for 533 yards and four touchdowns, good for 11.34 yards per reception — a 58.7% catch percentage.
The Falcons need Drake London to up his game because the receiver room is bleak behind him. I understand Kyle Pitts is basically a wideout as well as Bijan Robinson and Cordarrelle Patterson assuming a hybrid role, but London is still going to have a lot of responsibility as a second-year pro.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire