A year ago, the Falcons took Kyle Pitts at No. 4 overall. The tight end had a strong rookie season, catching 68 passes for 1,026 yards but only one touchdown.
Needing another dynamic pass catcher, Atlanta picked the first receiver off the board on Thursday, bringing in USC receiver Drake London with the No. 8 overall pick.
After the selection, head coach Arthur Smith said in his press conference that London and Pitts should be a strong pair to lead the receiving corps.
“[London is] a good player. We’re obviously excited. We have a good vision for him,” Smith said. “He has to go out there and earn it, but they are different players, too. Again, look right out there and look at the numbers and say, oh, they are both tall, yeah, but they are different players. They complement each other well. We are excited. He’ll come in here, and he’ll add a lot to this offense and help us be more efficient. Obviously, we need to get more explosive, too. He brings that to the table as well.”
With London being drafted at No. 8 overall, Smith said the intent is for the rookie to be a significant contributor in 2022.
“[B]ut again, we’ll bring him on at his speed,” Smith said. “Certainly, when you put a pick that high on a player, there’s an expectation that this guy needs to contribute. No different than Kyle [Pitts] last year. But we have all been around it, and we are not going to expedite it. He is coming off of an injury last season, he’s good to go, which we still have to be smart as we bring him along and get to camp.”