SoCal native and potential NFL star Drake London grew up cheering for Lions


Mike Florio was flat-out laughing. His co-host, Chris Simms, was stunned.

USC wide receiver and potential first-round draft pick Drake London, who grew up in Southern California, former home of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and the gunslinging San Diego Chargers, had just revealed that his favorite team growing up was ... the Detroit Lions.

"What? What!?" said Simms. "How the hell does that happen? How do you latch onto the Lions?"

Even London had to laugh: "Let me break it down real quick," he told Pro Football Talk at this week's NFL combine.

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"Pops was a Barry Sanders fan growing up and then it just so happened that Calvin Johnson, one of the best receivers ever, or the best receiver ever, was there. So I got to watch him growing up and it was perfect. I could care less about records or anything like that. Just him being Megatron was something special for me," said London.

Simms seems satisfied with the explanation. Almost relieved. For a moment there, he said he was "starting to question (London's) brains." No one will question the brains of Brad Holmes and the Lions if they spend a first-round pick on London next month. The team is desperate for a big-play receiver, and London is arguably the best one in the draft.

Asked if he hopes the dominoes fall in such a way that he lands with his favorite childhood team, London said, "I’m just hoping the dominoes fall that I get picked, to be honest. Whatever team gets me, I just hope they know they’re getting a playmaker."

To echo Simms, Johnny Humble over here.

London is getting picked, alright. He's almost certainly getting picked in the first round, potentially in the top 10, potentially before any other receiver. So unless they fancy London at No. 2, Detroit would likely have to trade up from No. 32 to grab him. And London might be worth it. He's a 6'5 nightmare for defensive backs who said this week he models his game after Mike Evans and, yep, Megatron. Make that Megatron and Mike Evans.

London missed the final four games of last season with an ankle injury that will prevent him from doing any physical tests at the combine and still finished among the top 10 Power Five receivers in the nation in catches (88), among the top 15 in yards (1,084) and among the top 20 in touchdowns (7). Had he qualified, he would have finished second in the country overall with 135.5 receiving yards per game.

The Lions are desperate for more weapons in the air. They produced an NFL-low five passing plays of 40-plus yards last season. The emergence of fourth-round pick and fellow USC product Amon-Ra St. Brown was huge, but this offense is lacking a downfield threat in a big way. London could fill the void. If he's indifferent about his landing spot, he certainly likes the idea of reuniting with St. Brown.

"That's the Sun God right there," he said this week.

And together, the Sun God and London could make the Lions offense shine. They would certainly make life easier for Jared Goff, who finished 27th in the NFL last season in yards per attempt.

"Anytime you can add a weapon on the perimeter, particularly, that’s going to help him and it will help us," Dan Campbell said Tuesday. "So that’s one of the things that we’d like to do, whether it’s free agency or the draft, and we’ll keep our eyes open. But there again, it’s gotta be the right guy and the right fit for us."

There might not be a better fit than London, the Lions fan from Southern California who could fill a big hole in Detroit.

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