ESPN recently ranked the NFL’s top 25 “under-the-radar” prospects and a former Tennessee Vols player took the top spot.

The rankings only included specific players — drafted in the third round or later, entered the NFL between 2019 and 2021, haven’t signed a contract extension, and haven’t played more than 500 snaps (the cutoff for running backs was 300 snaps).

With that criteria in mind, former Vols wide receiver Josh Palmer came in at No. 1 in the rankings.

Palmer, who is a member of the Los Angeles Chargers, is entering his second season in the NFL.

From ESPN:

Palmer showed the ability to create on his own in a limited offense time and time again, but this lack of production was a main factor behind a pretty poor playmaker score projection — Palmer had just an 8.7% playmaker rating — and he didn’t show especially great splits in workouts. He ran an average 4.52-second 40-yard dash, and his most dominant physical characteristic was probably his 33-inch arm length.

He didn’t play enough to qualify for our main leaderboard as a rookie, but among wideouts with 10 to 49 targets, Palmer finished 14th in DYAR and 22nd in DVOA. However, by the end of the season Palmer began getting starts. He had three touchdowns in the last five weeks of Los Angeles’ season as Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler missed some time. Palmer wasn’t physically dominating, but he had a knack for doing work at the catch point. His production came despite finishing with the 13th-lowest amount of cushion according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats.

Tennessee Vols
Dec 12, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Josh Palmer (5) scores a touchdown in the first half against the New York Giants at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Palmer caught 33 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie last season.

If Palmer, who was selected by the Chargers in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, had stuck around at Tennessee for one more season, he probably wouldn’t be on this list (he declined to take advantage of his extra COVID-19 year of eligibility).

Palmer was the Vols’ leading wide receiver in 2020, nearly doubling the production of Velus Jones Jr. We saw what a year in Josh Heupel’s offense did for Jones. Imagine what it could’ve done for Palmer.

He possibly could’ve played himself into being a first-round pick. And I don’t think he’d be viewed as an “under-the-radar” player.

If Palmer breaks out in 2022, it will be great for Tennessee when it comes to recruiting. The Vols are hoping to regain the moniker of “wide receiver U”. Palmer’s emergence as a star in the NFL would certainly help those efforts.

Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services