LAS VEGAS — GRAMMY award-winning rapper Drake placed a $100,000 bet on Drake London to be the first wide-receiver to be taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Atlanta Falcons selected London with the 8th pick. The rapper would cash in his ticket to the tune of $335,000. 

USC wide receiver Drake London stands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL draft Thursday, April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

After losing Calvin Ridley to a season-long suspension for betting on NFL games during his mental health hiatus and Russell Gage departing for Tampa bay Buccaneers, the Falcons are betting that London would become a key component in their passing attack as he seeks to complement tight end Kyle Pitts and Swiss-Army knife Cordarrelle Patterson.

“We’ve seen him go inside the numbers,” Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said. “There are a lot of guys in these offenses who only play one position or only play on one side. It does give you a lot of confidence in ways you can move personnel groups. We’ve seen him run the routes we’re going to ask him to run inside. We’ve seen him make contested catches outside. We’re very confident in the player and what we’re getting.”

London is 6’5” and 218 pounds out of Moorpark, California. London caught 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games before he fractured his ankle.  London’s strength with 50-50 balls and his height, along with Pitts, would shape up to be an unbelievable one-two punch if in fact quarterback Marcus Mariota can build a relationship with both pass catchers.

According to an unnamed scout, he said London was “the best player on a bad team; the defense was designed to stop him and they still couldn’t.” Another scout said London compares very well with Los Angeles Chargers all-pro wide receiver Keenan Allen “with more [run-after-catch] ability.”

Photo: Associated Press

London is the centerpiece of the Falcons draft. Later on, the Falcons selected Arnold Ebiketie, defensive end from Penn State with their first pick in the second round. Ebikeite finished second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (18) and third in sacks (9.5) in 2021. He earned second-team All-America honors.

He spent his first four college seasons at Temple.

With their second pick in the second round, the Falcons selected linebacker Troy Andersen from Montana State. 

In the third round, the Falcons selected Desmond Ridder, the Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback. The 6’3”, 211 pound signal caller has the determination to succeed, his attention to detail will serve him well on the next level. Ridder had 3,334 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes in his final season with the Bearcats. 

FILE – Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Houston in Cincinnati, in this Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, file photo. Ridder was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft (AP Photo/Aaron Doster, File)

With the 82nd pick the Falcons selected linebacker DeAngelo Malone, linebacker, from Western Kentucky. Malone had an outstanding Senior Bowl. The two-time Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Malone led the Conference USA in tackles for loss (16.5) and was second in sacks (8) while leading the nation among defensive linemen in tackles (88). By comparison, the Falcons only tallied 18 sacks last year, worst in the NFL.

The Falcons did not have a draft pick in Round Four. In Round Five, the Falcons selected running back Tyler Allgeier from BYU. Allgeier broke fifty tackles last season for the Cougars, which led major college football. Allgeier is from Fontana, California and amassed the fifth-most rushing yards in BYU history and second-most career touchdowns. Allgeier tallied up 2,899 yards and 36 scores, including a single-season record of 1,601 yards as a junior in 2021. 

Photo: University of Georgia Athletics

Guard Justin Shaffer went to the Falcons in Round Six with the 190th pick. Shaffer, an Ellenwood native and Cedar Grove High School Graduate, was second-team all SEC with the national champion Georgia Bulldogs. Shaffer also manhandled second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson in this year’s Orange Bowl.

With their final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected tight end John Fitzpatrick from the national champion Georgia Bulldogs. Fitzpatrick played in 38 games during his Georgia career. Fitzpatrick is 6’7″ 250, an Atlanta native and is expected to contribute in the run game. He is a Marist High School and UGA graduate.

Photo: University of Georgia Athletics

“Hopefully, once we get this thing rolling,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said. “We won’t pick in the top 10 anymore.”

Round 1: No. 8 – Drake London, WR, USC

Round 2: No. 38 (from NYG via NYJ via CAR) – Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State

Round 2: No 58 (from TEN) – Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State

Round 3: No. 74 – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Round 3: No. 82 (from IND) – DeAngelo Malone, LB, Western Kentucky

Round 5: No. 151 – Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU

Round 6: No. 190 – Justin Shaffer, Guard, Georgia 

Round 6: No.213 – John Fitzpatrick, TE, Georgia

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...