The truth why the Dallas Cowboys won’t draft your favorite prospect

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Drake London, WR, USC

Reasons: Free Releases, Deep Separation Quickness, Play Speed

Games watched (2021): Stanford, Colorado, Notre Dame

Drake London’s combine process has been everything scouts probably didn’t want it to be with him choosing not to do any workouts on Thursday. The Trojan was successfully able to rehab his broken ankle from late in the season and was considering running. He probably should have given the times the second wide receiver group produced Thursday night.

But instead, we’re back to square one trying to evaluate London’s speed based on his film…

For what it’s worth, London’s play speed is problematic. The Dallas Cowboys usually have a type at receiver; under Mike McCarthy, that type is someone long with good athletic and adjust ability. That’s why Simi Fehoko was a fourth-round pick; that’s why guys like Aaron Parker and Kendrick Rogers signed with the Cowboys after going undrafted.

In all fairness, having tall guys who can run on the outside does provide the team the ability to be versatile against shorter and taller cornerbacks. Against shorter cornerbacks, they have a bigger catch radius and can use their bodies to box them out on routes. Against taller cornerbacks, they hopefully have the play strength and body control to deal with contact throughout the stem and break with the requisite foot speed to stack the defensive back out of the break. It’s a methodology proven effective in places like Green Bay, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. (Notice a theme)

London does meet one of these criteria. He is an elite contested catch guy showing the consistency of a prime Dez Bryant. He has good body control to fight through contact, very good ball tracking, and good hands at the catch point showing good grip strength to pull the ball in. However, how often he needs to catch contested passes likely raises some red flags.

London isn’t great at working free releases. He has below-average acceleration and foot speed and it doesn’t challenge the defensive back in phase while they look to catch him in Man coverage or bail in zone coverage. As the season progressed he did show some nuance with the ability to separate by pushing outside cornerback towards the boundary before working back to the middle, but that wasn’t sustainable and the cornerbacks that allowed it to happen were playing fairly undisciplined.

London is good at beating press coverage and can attack man coverage in the short and intermediate areas of the field. While his contested catch ability far exceeds the average wide receiver, he doesn’t have the speed and explosiveness the Cowboys like from their wide receivers. For comparison, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Cedrick Wilson, and Simi Fehoko all ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash or faster. Noah Brown ran the 3-cone drill in 7.07 seconds.

Say what you want, but Dallas pretty consistently targets good athletes. Speaking of athletic ability…