The Los Angeles Chargers selected former Tennessee Vols wide receiver Josh Palmer in the third round (No. 77 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Palmer never got a chance to truly shine at Tennessee — thanks to lackluster quarterback play — but the Chargers saw enough that they felt like the former Vol was worth a third-round pick.
And they saw Palmer’s film almost by accident.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley told reporters after the draft that he was studying defensive backs on film and noticed that Palmer kept showing up.
“I felt like evaluating all these DBs in the secondary, I felt like this guy just kept showing up over and over and over again,” said Staley (via 247Sports).
The Chargers head coach was specifically impressed with Palmer’s performances against Alabama and Georgia
The Chargers weren’t completely unfamiliar with Palmer before the draft, thanks to defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley, who served as the Vols defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.
Staley, who was a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 2012, leaned on Ansley for advice about Palmer.
“Then just going back to D.A., who had to defend him every day in practice, you just get a strong sense of his makeup, strong sense of his work ethic, just how talented he is,” explained Staley.
The Chargers feel like Palmer can be a key part of their offense, thanks to his size and ability to line up inside or outside.
“We do feel like he can go inside to the slot and run that tree as well,” said Staley. “It gives us a bigger-bodied guy that can match up against smaller nickel-type people or a linebacker to be able to get that separation. Just feel like he’s a complete player, and we’re really excited about him. He really showed up a lot in the evaluation process.”
There’s no doubt that Palmer was a bit on the underrated side coming out of Tennessee. But the Chargers weren’t going to let him get past their third-round pick.
That was a good decision by Los Angeles — Palmer is going to make a lot of teams regret passing on him in the draft.
Featured image via Knoxville News Sentinel-USA TODAY Sports/Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports