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Why 'it's going to be fun' watching WRs Darnell Mooney, Drake London in 2024

Wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard said the Falcons are going to count on Drake London and Darnell Money to lead the position group.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Five inches and 36 pounds differentiate Drake London from Darnell Mooney, with London taking the size advantage over Mooney.

London is 6-foot-4 and 213 pounds, while Mooney is 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds.

Despite their physical differences, though, there is one thing the two Atlanta Falcons wide receivers have in common.

"They both can do it all in a sense," wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard said, "where they can play on all three levels in the passing game."

Because of that, Hilliard is excited for the possibilities – more importantly, the potential – that should come with the 2024 season.

"We're going to count on Drake and Mooney to be who they are," Hilliard said. "They've been as advertised, which is really, really good. We're expecting a significant jump for both, and we're expecting them to lead our room kind of where we'd like to see our passing game."

London's leadership expectations come as no shock as the returning veteran of the group. He has been in Atlanta since getting drafted by the Falcons in the first round of 2022, and he has led the team in receiving yards in his two seasons since. Last year London produced a career-high 905 yards but a lower count in receptions (69) and touchdowns (two). Previously, as a rookie, he had 72 receptions for 866 yards and four touchdowns.

Mooney, meanwhile, may be more of a surprise expected leader given he's new in Atlanta. He played for the Chicago Bears from 2020-23 as a former fifth-round pick, so he does have more experience than London overall, just elsewhere. Mooney's career peak – so far – dates back to 2021, though, with 81 receptions for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns. Last season actually saw his lowest totals, with 31 receptions for 414 yards and a single touchdown.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London #5 and wide receiver Darnell Mooney #1 during OTAs at Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Since the Falcons began offseason practices, the duo has been working with the starters together, which sparks curiosity about their individual game styles and whether they complement each other.

"(Mooney) is a down-the-field player, yards-per-catch guy," Hilliard said. "He's an excellent route runner. He's very, very instinctive. Great hands. Great after the catch. I think you're going to see some unique routes from him that you haven't seen in years past.

"The same goes for Drake. We don't see Drake as just a jump-ball guy. We're going to see more routes from him, more isolations underneath and in the intermedia passing game."

A lot of what Hilliard said was echoed by quarterback Kirk Cousins less than a week later.

"Mooney has incredible movement skills," Cousins said Monday. "Great hands. Football matters to him. There's an intense intent to his work that you don't see very often in players. Just thrilled with the player that we got in Mooney.

"And then, Drake. Just a very natural receiver, a really friendly target. He kind of just looks open to your eyes at quarterback because of his size, the way he run routes, his catch radius, his natural hands, his fluidity. He can the whole route tree, so you can ask him to do a lot."

The Falcons knew London would be back this season, still riding his rookie contract. Meanwhile, they were determined to get Mooney. Atlanta signed him as a free agent on March 15, just two days after the new league year began, wasting no time to give London a dance partner.

Now, the Falcons are reaping the early benefits of combining old and new.

"It's going to be fun," Hilliard said, "watching those guys with different body types do very similar things and very different things."

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