Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is wide receiver. The weakest position on offense heading in to the offseason, the Falcons have since completely overhauled the depth chart. Only Olamide Zaccheaus and 2021 sixth-rounder Frank Darby remain from last year’s squad.
First up, top draft selection Drake London.
WR Drake London
Age: 20 (21 during 2022 season)
Contract: $3.9M cap hit in 2022, rookie contract through 2025 (5th-year option in 2026)
Career Production (College): 24 games played | 160 receptions for 2,153 yards (13.5 YPR) and 15 TDs
2021 Production (College): 8 games played | 88 receptions for 1,084 yards (12.3 YPR) and 7 TD
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 1st round (8th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2022)
The Falcons had two massive roster holes heading in to the offseason: wide receiver on offense, and edge rusher on defense. After Calvin Ridley’s suspension, the argument could certainly be made that receiver was in worse shape overall. Atlanta went to work adding low-cost veterans to pad out the depth chart, but those players can only take you so far. A huge talent injection was needed in the draft, and the Falcons got it with their top pick: USC’s Drake London.
London was connected to Atlanta throughout the draft process, and it’s easy to see why. He fits the size and physicality profile that the team has prioritized, winning with his unique blend of strength, contested catch ability, and quality route-running. London won’t be confused with a downfield burner, but he’s a good overall athlete with impressive agility and movement skills for his size. Of all the top receivers in the draft class, London was the one with the most traditional “X” WR1 profile.
In Atlanta, London immediately assumes the top spot on the depth chart and should see a ton of targets early—similar to Kyle Pitts last season. He’s certainly comfortable with a high volume of targets, averaging 11 catches per game with USC in 2021. We’ll see how quickly London gets up to speed and on the same page with whoever ends up starting at quarterback, but the Falcons will be counting on him to be ready to go in his rookie season.
Projection: Drake London immediately becomes the WR1 for the Falcons, and could be the favorite to lead the team in both targets and receptions due to his skillset and proven ability as a possession-style receiver in the short-to-intermediate area of the field.