The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects who could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Death, taxes and the Green Bay Packers not drafting a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft. These are the three certainties of this life.
The 2022 NFL Draft will mark the 20th anniversary of the Packers being selected by Javon Walker with the 20th overall pick.
One wide receiver who could inspire Brian Gutekunst to break that streak is Drake London. The USC receiving machine checks in at #64 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.
In 2019, London recorded 39 receptions for 567 yards and five touchdowns. In six games during the 2020 season, London caught 33 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns.
Before suffering a season-ending ankle injury against Arizona in October, London had 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite missing the final four games of the season, London still won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.
“Drake London had the best season of any wide receiver in the country before he went down,” said Reign of Troy editor Evan Desai. “He’s the same guy who won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year this season despite being injured in just Game 8 of the season. In what may have been the worst year of In USC history, with the embarrassment of an offensive plan, London still had 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games.
London played on the USC basketball team and that’s to be expected as he does a great job playing over the edge. He climbs the ladder and flexes his muscles at the point of attachment. He has exceptional body control. Even when it’s covered, it’s open. With its frame, London has an Inspector-Gadget type capture radius and will be a red zone offset.
London has strong hands and is a maestro of contested holds. According to Pro Football Focus, London led the nation with 19 contested catches.
With his size (6-5) and ability to jump, it was no surprise to see London make Bruce Feldman’s Freak list for 2021.
According to Feldman, London has a vertical of 38 inches. His size and the way he attacks the ball at its highest point is a big reason former USC head coach Clay Helton compared him to Mike Evans.
“I definitely think it’s going to be more Mike Evans at the end of the day,” Helton said. “I think it’s going to be Mike Evans. I watched him in the spring when we moved him outside, and man he was dynamic. I mean, it’s a nightmare.
London is a load for defensive backs to knock down after capture. He is strong after capture due to his physical nature and he uses a stiff and strong arm.
“His tenacity and physique are hard to match,” Desai said. “It helps him a lot after the capture. He is extremely difficult to take down, as anyone who watches his film will find out. His trucking ability is off the charts, and as a monster athlete, he has significant game speed to make him effective after the catch as well.
London is a fast athlete for a man of his size. It is a smooth accelerator. He has quick, powerful steps to create separation.
“He’s a terrific road runner,” Desai said. “Participating in a lot of different roles as a catcher during his time at SC, he can run routes more related to traditional possession catchers, and he can run deep routes with great success as well. He even has a lot of experience as a tight end early in his career, which has helped diversify his course tree. It can perform whatever is needed.
It’s a well-known fact that Matt LaFleur and his team love wide receivers who can do the dirty work on the outside. London is a towering blocker off the perimeter. He’s wired well and does a good job of driving defenders down.
“His height and physicality help him in the blocking game,” Desai said. “Which of course is a big part of what translates into the NFL.”
Fit with the Packers
The wide receiver position in Green Bay is a mess. Will they choose to make Davante Adams the highest paid wide receiver in the league?
Will they bring back Allen Lazard? Will deep threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling get a new contract this offseason? Will the Packers bring back Randall Cobb?
Even if the Packers bring Adams back, they need to improve the talent behind him.
With his skills, London could make an immediate impact as Green Bay’s No. 2 wide receiver against Adams. If Adams isn’t back, London has all the tools to be a team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
“London is a monster,” Desai said. “He only needs one hand to be able to catch the ball and is better than anyone on contested catches. Even if the defense is suffocating him, a quarterback will feel confident to take risks if the intended target is London. The energy he plays with is unmatched and he has no fear on the football pitch. He can line up as a slot receiver, as a tight end (Kyle Pitts/Daren Waller type) and on the outside. No one will want to attack him, even in the NFL. Players his size aren’t expected to have the athleticism and ball skills to play catcher at the elite level that he does.