London headlines Trojans’ class on 2022 NFL Draft weekend

Drake London was the highest drafted Trojan since Sam Darnold in 2018.

A photo of Drake London holding up his Atlanta Falcons jersey after being selected in the NFL draft

The 2022 NFL Draft was filled with great moments, and the USC Trojans were represented well. Three former Trojans were drafted this year, and six made NFL teams as undrafted free agents.

The first Trojan off the board was wide receiver Drake London, who was selected with the eighth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons. In a draft loaded with talent at the wide receiver position, London was the first receiver selected and the highest USC wide receiver pick since Keyshawn Johnson was drafted No. 1 overall by the New York Jets in 1996.

London will be relied upon to be the No. 1 receiver for an Atlanta team that finished last season with a 7-10 record, traded Matt Ryan and lost their best receiver in Calvin Ridley for the entire 2022 season due to a suspension. London will likely be catching passes from Marcus Mariota, a former No. 2 overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2015. London’s ability to run after the catch and go up and get 50-50 balls should have Falcons fans very excited about his potential.

Along with London’s selection, edge rusher Drake Jackson was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in Round 2 with the 61st overall pick. With this pick, the 49ers strengthened their defensive line, which has been one of their best units over the last few seasons. Jackson played well in spurts for the Trojans last season, finishing with five sacks, one forced fumble and an interception. Edge rusher and linebacker were not necessarily huge needs for the 49ers, but Jackson will add to a fierce front seven with players such as Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. Jackson’s 6-foot-3, 254-pound frame and speed coming off the edge give him major upside to be a successful player at the next level.

The final Trojan drafted was running back Keaontay Ingram. Ingram was selected with the 201st overall pick in the sixth round by the Arizona Cardinals. Ingram joins a Cardinals team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since the 2015-16 season. Ingram has a chance to make an impact in Arizona’s backfield as a reliable second option at running back. The majority of carries will be given to James Conner, who is coming off a very productive season for Arizona with over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns. Ingram is a versatile player with the ability to shake defenders with a variety of moves and utilize great breakaway speed in the open field. With the suspension of superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season, the Cardinals will be looking for extra production all around which Ingram will look to provide.

Five former Trojans were signed after the draft by five different teams. Cornerback Chris Steele is heading to the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent and will try to make a talented defensive roster. Steele had two interceptions and three passes defended for the Trojans last season.

Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao was picked up by the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders’ pass defense struggled at times last year, so Pola-Mao has a chance to make the team and possibly earn some playing time.

The other four former Trojans that signed undrafted free agent deals are Kana’i Mauga, Isaac Taylor-Stuart, Erik Krommenhoek and Jalen McKenzie. Mauga was signed by the Denver Broncos and will try to make the roster as a linebacker. Taylor-Stuart was signed by the Dallas Cowboys and will seek a roster spot at the cornerback position. Krommenhoek was signed by the Los Angeles Chargers and will compete to be one of the tight ends on the roster before the regular season starts. McKenzie was signed by the Tennessee Titans and will try to secure a roster spot as an offensive lineman.