Former NFL GM mocks Falcons drafting big-bodied wide receiver

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The Falcons have a few glaring needs on the roster; the most apparent has to be at receiver. Atlanta currently boasts a core of Olamide Zaccheaus, Frank Darby, Chad Hansen, KhaDarel Hodge, and Austin Trammell, which is just a conglomerate of WR3s at best.

The Falcons need a serious influx of talent at the position, which couldn’t have come at a better time. The 2022 draft class is absolutely loaded at wide receiver. There is a prospect for every role in the NFL — slot, possession, boundary, gadget, contested catch, etc. The Falcons need boundary receivers who can threaten defenses after the catch.

Mike Tannenbaum is a former NFL general manager and worked in front offices across New York, Miami, and New Orleans for more than 25 years. He now works for ESPN as an analyst and put out his first mock draft, which had the Falcons selecting Drake London out of USC.

Here’s what Tannenbaum said about the pick:

Atlanta is searching for its next franchise QB after trading Matt Ryan, but Marcus Mariota can hold the fort for a year. The 2023 class promises to have more options under center. In the meantime, the Falcons have a star in Kyle Pitts at tight end, but their wide receiver room is barren. The current group includes the likes of Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodges and Frank Darby. London is a phenomenal talent and makes a lot of sense for the Falcons.

Tannenbaum had Ikem Ekwonu, Jermaine Johnson II, and Travon Walker going after the Falcons selection — all of which I’d rather have in Atlanta over London. However, the Southern California product is still a helluva player.

London possesses a rare combination of size and athleticism, but he isn’t all raw. The former two-sport athlete has excellent hands and ball skills with the impressive leaping ability to tilt 50/50 balls into his favor. His routes are adequate to have an immediate impact in the NFL with experience working in the slot and on the boundary. Arthur Smith’s passing attack suits London’s ability to attack all three levels of the defense, and his size enables him to be a decent blocking option.

There are downsides to his game, though. His lack of elite speed could be seen as a negative. Although he spent time all over the Trojan offense, London has more experience in the slot than outside. All in all, I don’t hate the pick because the Falcons need help across the depth chart, but taking a wide receiver with the 8th pick will sour some fans.

Photographer: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

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