Time will tell if Drake London was the right pick at No. 8 for the Atlanta Falcons. London offers truly intriguing size and after the catch ability and looks like a terrific fit with this offense, but with the massive run on receivers in the first round the team is betting on him being the best player at the position in this entire class. He’ll have to be that guy or close to it for the team’s faith to be rewarded, and we won’t know whether London is that guy for a while now.
What we do know is that the Falcons considered him the best player available and were psyched to get him, and that they waved away what Terry Fontenot considered unserious offers for the No. 8 pick. In late night comments to reporters, Arthur Smith and Fontenot gave us more context for the decision.
First off, unsurprisingly, London’s physicality clearly stood out for the Falcons. Arthur Smith has gravitated toward tall receivers who block well and pick up yards after the catch, and the Falcons have been trying to build toward an offense where everyone can move around the formation and be effective. London checked off several boxes there, per Fontenot and Smith.
Falcons HC Arthur Smith said they saw a lot of the route tree with Drake London because he's played inside and outside.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) April 29, 2022
GM Terry Fontenot said "he's a physical player" and they could tell from tape he loves to play.
#Falcons GM Terry Fontenot advises us to go watch WR Drake London along the sideline. He displays his toughness. pic.twitter.com/JZ3tc9NJ5h— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) April 29, 2022
The Falcons did get offers for No. 8, and I expected if they got great ones they’d consider moving down and settling for another player. We’ll likely never know what those offers are, but we do know that Fontenot did not consider them compelling enough to lose out on London.
The Falcons listened to some offers to trade down from No. 8, but GM Terry Fontenot didn't consider any of them serious, he said.— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) April 29, 2022
One thing we discussed more than once on the live show last night was the fact that the Falcons selection of London kicked off a massive run on receivers. In total, six went in the first round, all of them between picks No. 8 and No. 18, and two more high-end receivers were traded. The Titans moved A.J. Brown to the Eagles and the Ravens traded Hollywood Brown to the Cardinals, and receivers went No. 8, No. 10, No. 11, No. 12, No. 16 and No. 18. Clearly, the Falcons felt that run validated their selection of London and confirmed that they could not have traded down and gotten their man, and while the former has to be proved out the latter certainly seems true.
#Falcons GM Terry Fontenot and HC Arthur Smith keep noting that there was a run on wide receivers after their pick.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) April 29, 2022
Finally, we can agree on one thing: Maybe Drake London shouldn’t be in charge of nicknames for this football team. At least he’s awfully excited to be here.
Falcons GM Terry Fontenot on Drake London's nickname of twin towers for him and Kyle Pitts.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) April 29, 2022
"Not smart," as both Fontenot and Smith had to kind of stifle chuckles.
"I wanted to be in Atlanta at the end of the day. This is where I wanted to end up ... I can't wait to put on that jersey and be a Dirty Bird."— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) April 29, 2022
New #Falcons wide receiver @DrakeLondon_ pic.twitter.com/mjorzCU0SF
We’ll have plenty of time to get to know London and see him work in this Falcons offense, and every single one of us is hoping that he’ll prove to be worth the No. 8 selection and then some. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the knowledge that London is a talented player landing on a team that values him and seems to be a good fit for his skill set, even if receiver was not the most popular position of need for a team with a lot of work to do on the roster. When we talk about the selection in 5-10 years, may it be in glowing terms.