Julio Jones was the Atlanta Falcons’ franchise leader in yardage and receptions. It was not easy to replace a player with the two-time All-Pro’s special talents, but the Falcons may have just found an updated version. One NFL insider believes Atlanta’s passing game is an “absolutely sensational”. The dynamic pass-catcher is already setting a pace which could lead to him posting “All-Pro” numbers before the end of the season.
Falcons’ New Julio Jones Shows ‘Dominance’ in One Area
Jordan Schultz believes Rookie Drake London has become the new Jones. Schultz praised the eighth-overall pick for his “flat-out dominance” in the red zone and his precision. His releases. His ability to high-point football.” Schultz also predicted London’s stats. “110 catches for 1,360 yards and eight touchdowns.” Numbers like these would show London’s potential to be the same playmaker as Jones during his 10 seasons with the Falcons. With 54 catches for 959 yards, eight scores and his sixth NFL draft in 2011, the sixth player was drafted.
Jones was a big boy who thrived because of his strength and hands. London already uses these qualities to thrash defenses at this level.
London Delivers What Falcons Expected
These early numbers are quite impressive. London started his first campaign with five catches of 74 yards against New Orleans Saints in Week 1. He then followed that up with eight more grabs totaling 86 yards and a touchdown against Los Angeles Rams.
London delivers more than just the stats. According to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, London is delivering what T.J. Yates, Falcons receivers coach, said the Falcons desired: “a large, physical receiver who could play within the numbers.”
Smith and Dave Ragone, the offensive coordinator, have not wasted any time in using London and his 6’4″‘, 213-pound frame for in-breaking routes. This compilation shows London’s second catch against the Rams. It shows Smith and his big-bodied wideout working a slant underneath to break tackles and fight through traffic in between the hashmarks.
London’s size is a strength of the Falcons, but it will take more Jones-like skills to make London vertically mobile. London’s athleticism, height and cross-over abilities will help him to make tough catches.
London’s basketball background — he was a walk-on for the USC basketball team as a freshman — helps him make difficult grabs. Rothstein says that London already has mastered this skill. London’s ability to expand his route tree could help him reach the same level as Jones during the majority of his Falcons-era career. He was eventually injured and lost his dominance. In 2021, Jones was traded to Tennessee Titans. This was a one-season experiment that saw the 33-year-old catch up with Atlanta’s NFC South rival, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jones will be able to see the receiver who is already primed to succeed him in the Falcons’ primary position by playing in the same division. Smith and Fontenot hope Jones will see that, but Jones will also be able to observe the hype train.
London is a natural talent. He’s surrounded by a few useful tools, such as Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Pitts. London must keep his eyes on Patterson and Pitts, while maximizing any opportunities they provide for him. The Falcons will win some of their games this season.