The Falcons Building Blocks series is a week-long series of stories that focuses in on certain talent that will be counted on throughout the course of the a transitional 2022 year in Atlanta, and beyond.
Last year, Scott Bair authored this series, and he had certain requirements and marks the five players on this list must his. They had to be on a rookie contract. They had to be 27 years old and younger. They had to be thriving already, "with leadership qualities and potential for even better down the road." Though this list follows a similar pattern, there are no such requirements for my list.
I'm looking at players the Falcons can build around, regardless of age, overall status or contract details. The Falcons are in the process of setting a foundation. Who can be the core pieces of said foundation? He may be a rookie, but Drake London has potential to be.
By Tori McElhaney
It was at this time last summer that Scott Bair was mounting his defense for including Kyle Pitts (then, a rookie) on his 2021 building blocks list.
Here's what he said: Kyle Pitts has not yet played an NFL snap. He has 0 catches for 0 yards and 0 touchdowns at this time. There's an argument to be made that the Florida product can't be considered a building block until he does something, anything at the professional level.
Fast forward to this exact moment. And I'm about to tweak this sentence to better fit the 2022 building blocks list.
Here's what I say: Drake London has not yet played an NFL snap. He has 0 catches for 0 yards and 0 touchdowns at this time. There's an argument to be made that the USC product can't be considered a building block until he does something, anything at the professional level.
The reasoning behind Scott's inclusion of Pitts last year is the exact same reason I am including London this year.
In hindsight, it worked out well in Scott's favor. Hopefully, it works for me, too, because let's be honest: It's difficult at this point in time to pick foundational pieces to write about within the Atlanta Falcons organization. More players than not are on a short-term deal. We've already seen this roster turnover exponentially in two years' time. And it's going to continue to churn with only a select few left in the pot to simmer. Even though London hasn't a single professional snap to his name, he should be included.
Though higher draftees above that of the No. 8 overall pick have not panned out before and will continue to… well… not, I can't help but think London will be forced into a foundational role in this offense because of how much his presence was needed.
And don't read that word "forced" and think this is a bad thing. The sooner London becomes comfortable in that WR1 role, the better, because for the first time since before the Roddy White era, Atlanta didn't really have a true No. 1 wide receiver going into this offseason.
That is, until they drafted London at No. 8. He follows a lengthy list of receivers like White, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. It's not up to London to fill those shoes. It's up to London to become his own version of a No. 1 receiver. He'll have the chance to do that in his rookie year.
If you're a general manager, you don't waste a top 10 draft pick on someone you think will come in and play a rotational role. You're looking for someone who makes an immediate impact, like Pitts did last year. Am I saying London should have a 1,000-receiving yard season? Not really. But barring injury and with 17 games on the schedule? He should get pretty dang close.
And if he's close, or surpasses that mark, then he should be a building block of this offense. Even when the Falcons figure out what direction they are going - long term - at the quarterback position, having London around should help. He'd be well established by that point, and, one would hope, productive. If that's the case, he deserves a spot on this list.
The problem, though, is that all of this is hypothetical because we haven't seen London. At all. We don't know what type of player he's going to be in this league, and we don't know how much production we should expect from him. We can have our hypothesis, but that's it.
At the end of the day, there is no evidence - outside of being the No. 8 overall pick - that leads us to believe London is a foundational player for this organization in 2022. But because of the way the roster is currently constructed, there's no way of knowing who will even be on this team in 2023 and 2024. There's a good chance that regardless of his rookie year, London will be. So, he's a safe bet to make here.
Now we just need to see what type of asset he truly can be.